The Rest Beyond the West
Edited by Vladimir Popov and Piotr Dutkiewicz
Chapter 9: Russia and the European Union: the clash of world orders
There are two models that have been in contestation since the end of the Cold War – wider Europe and greater Europe. The tension between the two is a central facet of the cold peace that has predominated for the last quarter-century, and has coloured Russia’s relations with the European Union (EU). Wider Europe is based on the tried and tested model of the EU, whose arc of good governance, economic liberalism and societal welfare was projected ever further to the East. The other draws on the greater European idea inspired by geopolitical interpretations of territorial space while trying to find ways to overcome the logic of conflict that inevitably arises from geopolitics. The greater European project sought finally to end the division of the continent, respecting the various cultural and civilizational traditions yet united on the principles of free trade, visa-free travel and the assertion of a multipolar but united continent in world affairs as a moderating force. This ‘Gaullist’ vision of continental Europeanism envisaged building on the already existing ‘variable geometry’ of European integration (notably the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)) to create a genuinely multipolar and pluralist vision of continental unity. Instead, the wider European project was increasingly subsumed into a rampant Atlanticism and forced the countries in between the EU and Russia to choose between the two. The result was the Ukraine conflict and the new division of Europe. Only a renewed continental vision can repair relations between Russia and the EU and overcome the broader crisis in European development.
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