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Europe's power of influence, explained "for dummies", by Hillary Clinton

It was Hillary Clinton who came in person to say all the good things she thinks about the foreign policy of the European Union, and its High Representative, Cathy Ashton. It was on the Record Europe program on the BBC parliamentary channel. And the two women were together on the set, questioned by our colleague Shirin Wheeler.

« Yes now I have someone on the phone to tell me: “What's Europe thinking today” explains the US Secretary of State, who paints a glowing portrait of her European counterpart. “ I found someone who took on this job with extraordinary energy and I know it's a huge job she has undertaken for the European Union ". The fact of being “two women” played a role, she believes, in this relationship as much political as it was personal. “ We have both been involved in the politics of our respective countries for a long time. (…) And it is also, for me, a real pleasure to be able to talk not only about serious things, but also about our children, the purchases we can make… ».

A division of labor between the EU and the United States

Then responding to certain criticisms which were expressed in particular on the absence of Cathy Ashton at the opening of the negotiations on the Middle East (1), Hillary Clinton wanted to highlight the need to establish priorities between the EU and the United States. “ I think we can say, 24 hours a day would not be enough to meet all the expectations, all the obligations, the demands that each of us may receive. So we need to set priorities. "" the European Union and the United States must present themselves in so many different places. And so I think what Cathy and I are trying to do is some pioneering work, something that resembles a cooperative approach and even a division of labor. »

Influence work

Based on the question of the Middle East, Hillary Clinton thus illustrates this division of labor between the EU and the USA. It begins immediately by denying the impression of European weakness and sheds light on another angle. “ I think it's a misperception that the EU is not able to exert influence." explains the US Secretary of State. “There is so much work to be done in all these complex foreign policy challenges – strengthening the Palestinian Authority, the EU's relationship with the Arab world, advocating for a two-state solution is in the best interests of the Palestinian people is a large part of the negotiating context. The United States, in our efforts to bring the parties together, plays a different role. »

“(…) I think the zero-sum analysis of foreign policy is really outdated. We no longer have these linear questions where it was easy to decide. (…) During the Cold War, it was very clear which side we were on and how we worked together (…). We live in a much more complicated environment now. It's not that our problems are worse. (…) But they are different. And they demand a different use of hard power than of soft power. When I became secretary of state, I said the United States was going to start using smart power, which is a combination of these tools and moving away from this kind of analysis and reaction at all or Nothing. In this partnership between the EU and the United States, I think it will take some time to adjust and in the member states we all still have our role to play individually, of course. But this type of cooperation is the only answer to the complexity we face in the 21st century. »

To listen to part of the exchange: BBC The Record Europe

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Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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