Alexander Stubb at LSE: EU must react to the new realities in its foreign policy
European Union needs a new approach in its foreign policy, Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb declared in his speech delivered in London School of Economics on 11 November. “The EU must react to changes in the playing field of foreign policy. In the end it is a question of whether the EU will in future have a significant role to play in a multipolar world order”, Stubb stated.
It was his second time to hold a speech at LSE, his alma mater, as the Finnish Foreign Minister. The atmosphere was warm as many of his old colleagues were present at the lecture. Stubb finished his PhD in international politics at LSE in 1999.
Stubb expressed his concern over the EU’s declining influence in the world, where there are more competing actors, goals and values than in the past. According to Foreign Minister Stubb, the EU now needs a dignified foreign policy based on listening, dialogue and mutual respect. In the course of his speech, Stubb presented three “commandments” for this new dignified foreign policy.
The first commandment is that the EU must put its own house in order. “We have to live up to our own standards, be it on trade policy or human rights,” the foreign minister said.
The second commandment is that the EU must speak with one voice. The EU is the world’s largest economy, but in international politics its position is too weak, the foreign minister contended. The Lisbon Treaty offers the Union a chance to take on a world role compatible with its economic weight. This requires that full support is given to the EU’s common representatives: Herman Van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso and Catherine Ashton, Stubb stressed.
The third commandment Foreign Minister Stubb presented is to speak softly and carry a big carrot. The EU must adapt to a situation where European norms and values cannot be universally dictated to others. We have to strive to genuinely respect our partners and try to understand them without abandoning our own values, such as promotion of democracy and human rights. We must proceed from monologue to dialogue, Stubb stated.
Minister Stubb ended his speech by saying: “I am convinced that by fulfilling the three ‘commandments’ we will create the conditions for both a more influential EU and also a more effective world governance.”
In the Q&A session that followed the lecture Stubb was asked how dignified foreign policy could work in the Israel-Palestinian conflict or in the EU-Russian relations. Stubb’s answer was that EU’s foreign policy in the Middle East has already been dignified. The only interest for the EU in the area is peace, which has been tried to achieve through economic support to the both sides.
Regarding Russia, Stubb was very optimistic. He emphasized that there has been a genuine reset in the EU-Russian relations. In addition, he described President Dmitry Medvedev as a representative of the new way of thinking whose norms are based on liberalism and democracy. Stubb regards the upcoming NATO-summit in Lisbon as a symbolic step towards deeper cooperation, as Medvedev will also participate in the event.
After the lecture Stubb met representatives of the media and members of LSE’s Finnish Society. With the students he discussed the latest EU issues and also the current hot topic in the UK – universities’ tuition fees. As an alumnus himself, he congratulated the students in making the right choice on choosing LSE.
The entire speech is appended below.Minister Stubb's speech
(Text: Olli Turtiainen, Embassy of Finland)