A holistic European Union

A duo comprising of former Latvian president Vaira Vike-Freiberga and former Portugese EU Commissioner Antonio Vitorino writes on Project Syndicate about the need for Polish and Swedish leadership in the European Union:

As the “big three” increasingly pursue their own narrowly defined national interests, however, other EU member states are emerging as leaders in key foreign-policy fields. For example, Sweden – the 14th largest member state in terms of population, and eighth in terms of GDP – under the leadership of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt punches considerably above its weight. Last year, it increased annual aid to North Africa by SEK100 million (€11.1 million), proposed an EU mission to Tunisia just a week after the revolution to support democratic aspirations there, and was an early and strong backer of UN resolutions in support of the uprising in Libya.

Poland, too, is emerging as a foreign-policy leader. Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski have particularly taken the initiative on the EU’s strategy towards Russia, where Poland has largely overcome its differences with Germany and is now at the forefront of efforts to develop a genuinely comprehensive approach. Poland has also led on European defense (though it declined to take part in the military intervention in Libya). This reflects the strength of the Polish economy, which is expected to grow by more than 3% in 2012 – faster than almost anywhere else in the EU.

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