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The University of Southampton
Politics and International RelationsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Dr Kamil Zwolski published new article on the geopolitical ambitions of the European Commission

Published: 8 January 2021

In 2019, the European Commission got a new President – a former German Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen. Each President has his or her own agenda and a set of priorities. For von der Leyen, one of the top priorities has been to advance the geopolitical profile of the Commission. This is significant, but not unexpected. The European Union has been striving to become more strategic and more assertive in recent decades – an aspiration most vividly expressed in the Global Strategy adopted in 2016. Von der Leyen, capitalising on how politically prominent the top Commission post has become in recent decades, took that aspiration one step further.

Considering the geopolitical environment that the EU operates in, the EU and Commission’s move is understandable, but it is significant for anyone with some basic knowledge of International Relations (IR) literature. It is common knowledge in IR that, when it comes to security and geopolitics, international organisations remain the sums of its member states’ preferences. International bureaucracies do have their own agendas and methods of projecting influence, but the domain of geopolitics is reserved for the states.  

This move by the Commission, therefore, is important not only for the future direction of the European Union (Is it becoming more security-minded?), but also for how we study and understand international organisations, geopolitics and security. All these dilemmas are explored in the article published by Dr Kamil Zwolski in Global Affairs, entitled ‘Diversified in Unity: The Agenda for the Geopolitical European Commission’. The paper explains what von der Leyen means by the ‘geopolitical European Commission’ as well as explores potential problems with that new direction.

This research was supported by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme in the form of the Jean Monnet Chair award, which Dr Kamil Zwolski received in 2019.

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