The Centre for Geopolitics is pleased to host an event in which Urmas Paet talks to Rt Hon Charles Clarke about his book: From Spectator to Actor: Changing gear in EU foreign policy

They will discuss the war in Ukraine, the responses of the European Union and NATO and the consequences for the region

The EU has long aspired to play a role in world affairs commensurate with its status as an economic power, an ambition embodied in the common foreign and security policy (CFSP), the European External Action Service and a host of programmes, policies and mechanisms. In this call to action, Renew Europe MEP Urmas Paet, who was Estonian foreign minister from 2005-2014, forensically examines the EU’s too-often ineffective performance in the face of a wide range of foreign policy challenges. Lack of consensus among the member states, slow decision-making, strategic confusion, poor engagement with potential partners and an absence of real conviction are constant themes. The inescapable conclusion is that in foreign policy the EU, while a source of ceaseless pronouncements and declarations, remains a minor player in a world where Great Power politics have reasserted themselves – and a world in which systemic challenges to the western democratic model, from Russia, China and others have become more powerful than when the CFSP was initiated. Mr Paet’s theme is to learn from the past, not dwell on it, and to grasp the nettle to achieve a unified and effective strategy before it is too late. Bold, but realistic and pragmatic ambition must replace vague and ill-defined aspirations which produce nothing, he argues. As he writes “It is simply no longer enough to stride around the world offering hope, values and a cheque book. The EU and its member states need … to prioritise and strategize, speak with one voice and with common goals, and do so with clarity and consistency.”

Urmas Paet has been a Member of the European Parliament as of November 2014. He specializes in foreign and security policy issues. He is the Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a member of the Security and Defence Committee as well as a substitute member in the International Trade Committee. Mr Paet is also the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Working Group on Eastern Partnership. In November 2019 Urmas Paet founded the European Parliament-Arctic Friendship Group and serves as the Chair of the group. He is the rapporteur of the European Defence Union Report, the EU Arctic Policy Report, the Cyber Defence Report and the Report on the State of EU Cyber Defence Capabilities.

Before joining the European Parliament, Urmas Paet was the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia for almost ten years. Urmas Paet has also served as a Minister of Culture and as the Head of the Nõmme City district in Tallinn.

He majored in Political Science and started out as a journalist in Estonian Radio and daily newspaper “Postimees”.

Rt Hon Charles Clarke jointly leads the Baltic Geopolitics Programme and is a former UK Home Secretary.