The systemic crisis the International Liberal Order (ILO) is undergoing has resulted in, and been amplified by, the unilateral turn taken by the United States (US) under Trump at the international level. In that sense, ‘America First’ results in revisionism by the system leader vis-à-vis an order the US created and led. This shift away from a historical US liberal hegemony is even more consequential as it results in a leadership crisis and translates into a rupture within the transatlantic community, the backbone of the ILO. While the European Union (EU) initially positioned itself as a follower of the US, today it appears to oppose American ‘illiberalism’ through ‘principled pragmatism’, expressed on an increasing number of issues. Building on the concept of leadership, this paper analyses how the EU is equipped to face the ILO crisis, and to what extent its ambition is to uphold the ILO. Following a comparative analysis of emblematic 2002, 2015 and 2017 US National Security Strategies and the EU’s 2003 Security Strategy and 2016 Global Strategy, the paper examines the crisis of the ILO through two case studies: international free trade and the Iran nuclear agreement. The paper argues that, while still being limited by American preponderance over international issues, the EU is upholding the ILO by hedging.
Keywords: Transatlantic relations, International liberal order, Leadership, EU Global Strategy, Trump
Brice Didier | Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva
Brice is PhD Candidate and Research and teaching assistant at the Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva. Before that, he was the first Academic Assistant for the Master of Arts in Transatlantic Affairs at the College of Europe, and previously worked as Studies officer in the Department of International affairs of the Institute for Higher National Defence Studies.
Brice holds a MA in EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies from the College of Europe, a MA in Geopolitics from the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris & Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University, and graduated in European and International Affairs from Sciences Po Rennes