Europe is facing a collection of threats, both traditional and non-traditional, that risks displacing the continent on the world stage in an era of great power politics and eroding the resiliency of EU member states.
Traditional miscreant actors like China and Russia remain committed to weakening the EU’s unity and desire for strategic autonomy, with the goal of fostering hesitation when decisive action is needed. Although the end goal is the same, both execute their strategy through different tactics. Beijing has shown its adeptness at deploying geoeconomic instruments to build leverage over rivals, by weaponizing foreign direct investments (FDI). These notably concern European critical infrastructure, and decoupling member states from Brussels in formats like 17+1 and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to advance their agenda to the detriment of the EU. Outside of the immediate European theatre, China’s statecraft has begun to build a roster of reliable international partners to obstruct progress on core EU issues such as human rights and freedom of the press.