Under the heading of "principled pragmatism", the EU Global Strategy (June 2016) seeks a middle road between an idealist agenda that proved all too optimistic and pure power politics, for which the EU has neither the heart nor the stomach. The EU is struggling however to bring this concept into practice in an environment that is increasingly dominated by geopolitical competition, both in its neighbourhood and beyond. Offering resilience and capacity-building when neighbours are seeking security guarantees, the EU might find a lack of interest in its policies. Similarly, talking about effective global governance while great and regional powers are establishing spheres of influence is not always convincing to the EU's traditional partners. This paper will assess Europe's leverage in this new environment and try to find ways of exerting influence and defending European interests (which the Global Strategy has defined, for the first time) while remaining true to the values on which the European project itself is based.
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