Amid discussions about a multi-speed Europe and two tracks toward integration, we sit down with Stratfor Senior Europe Analyst Adriano Bosoni to discuss the future of the European Union in this episode of the podcast. Then in part two of the podcast, Senior Global Analyst Matthew Bey and Senior Military Analyst Omar Lamrani to discuss the geopolitics of space and evolving security interests there.
Emily Hawthorne [00:00:01] I'm Emily Hawthorne, a Middle East and North Africa analyst at Stratfor, and this podcast is brought to you by Stratfor Worldview, our premiere digital publication for objective, geopolitical, intelligence, and analysis. Individual team and enterprise memberships are available at worldview.stratfor.com.
Adriano Bosoni [00:00:29] For a decade, treaty change was absolutely out of the question, and now that things are a bit calmer and with Brexit fueling a debate about the future, the Europeans have decided there is time to think about what comes next.
Ben Sheen [00:00:46] Welcome to the Stratfor Podcast, focused on geopolitics and world affairs from Stratfor.com. I'm your host, Ben Sheen, and that was a short preview of our conversation with Stratfor Senior Europe Analyst Adriano Bosoni on a proposal for a multi-speed approach to European integration. France's new president, Emmanuel Macron, has expressed his support for the plan, and it also has the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but it may not be as easy as they think. In the second part of this episode of the podcast, Stratfor Senior Global Analyst Matthew Bey sits down with Senior Military Analyst Omar Lamrani to explore the evolving geopolitics and governance of space. Thank you for joining us. And with me now is Adriano Bosoni, our European analyst, to talk about some of the developments we've seen on the continent. Thanks for joining me today, Adriano.
Adriano Bosoni [00:01:37] Thank you, Ben, it's good to be here.
Ben Sheen [00:01:38] We cover a lot of European developments in Stratfor Worldview, but it's always good to talk to you to get the latest input from what we've seen, specifically when it comes to French president Emmanuel Macron, because he seems to have some aspirations for Europe that doesn't necessarily track with what other countries want. I think a good place to start is is the press conference he held recently. Can you give us some insight into what he's thinking and how that aligns with maybe the direction for Europe going forward?
Adriano Bosoni [00:02:06] Macron basically said that he wants a vanguard of EU members to move ahead with the process of continental integration while others are allowed to be left behind and not to join that vanguard of countries. But to understand where the idea comes from we have to make a bit of history. 2017 is a very symbolic year in Europe for many reasons. To begin with, it's the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the financial crisis, which began in the US but moved very fast to the European Union and had particularly damaging consequences for the European Union that the countries still feel to this day. 2017 is also the 60th anniversary of the creation of the European Communities in 1957, and the countries consider that this is a very symbolic date to start thinking about the future and what to do next. And finally, of course 2017 was a very important year from a political perspective. The two most important countries in the EU, France and Germany, are holding general elections, which means that after the current cycle is over we will have the two most important political and economic players free of electoral pressure to think about the future. So all these events and anniversaries are creating the ground for the EU to sit and talk about the future.
Ben Sheen [00:03:34] Something that Macron seems quite set on is this idea of a multi-speed Europe. This is something we've explored briefly in the past, but for people who are perhaps new to that concept, what does he mean when he talks about multi-speed Europe?
Adriano Bosoni [00:03:46] He basically means a European Union in which some countries, a small group of countries, decide to move ahead with the process of continental integration and they do not necessarily involve the entire membership of the EU. This is not necessarily a new thing in the sense that the EU already has this to some extent. For instance, the EU has 28 countries but only 19 use the euro as their currency. Or, most members of the European Union participate in the Schengen Agreement, which eliminates border controls, but not all of them participate in that agreement. So to a certain extent, the EU is not 100% homogenous, and it has different countries doing different things. But from a political and symbolic point of view, the goal is that all the member states at some point in the future would converge. But if the EU for the first time acknowledges that this is no longer their goal things change, because this idea about an ever closer union among member states it's not necessarily the EU's main goal. But the thing is, this is a bit problematic because President Macron has spoken about that vanguard of countries quote unquote, but it's not clear what exactly he means. I personally think that he means the eurozone, that is the 19 countries that use the euro, but even that idea is problematic because we know that the eurozone is not homogenous and not all its members are on the same page. There are different views between northern European countries and southern European countries, especially when it comes to introducing measures that would share risk
Adriano Bosoni [00:05:30] and would mean that the worth of the north is shared with the south. So there are north south frictions that make the evolution of the eurozone difficult. But at the same time if he means the eurozone, the question is what happens with the countries that are not part of the eurozone, most of which are in central and eastern Europe. Does it mean that countries like Poland or Romania, which are very important from a geopolitical point of view, are left behind? They are no longer considered when the big decisions are made? So Macron's idea is an interesting one. It shows that the EU has some flexibility to address the frictions and the internal differences in the block, but at the same time it raises many, many questions about how viable these ideas are.
Ben Sheen [00:06:20] And also Macron isn't the first person to raise this issue before, but it is very, very ambitious. And it seems like quite a significant move for a fairly new politician to make. And as we've seen at home, he's struggling to maintain his popularity post election. So, what do you think is the driving impetus behind Macron's desire to really push this on the European stage?
Adriano Bosoni [00:06:41] Well, it's interesting that French politicians have different views about the European Union. If you ask politicians in the far right and the far left, then the EU is just globalization by other means. It's another way in which France's national sovereignty is eroded and another way in which French industries and French voters are hurt by external forces that damage the country's national sovereignty and wellbeing. But if you ask moderate parties, the European Union is actually a way, a tool, to manage globalization and to somehow protect France and their continent as a whole from its damaging effects. The French moderates see the EU as a buffer, as a way to protect the country. And that's why we have seen Macron playing with this idea of the quote unquote the Europe that protects. He wants to introduce some reforms of this on the economic arena that protect European countries in general but France in particular from what he sees as unfair competition from abroad. And we have seen for instance a French proposal to increase screening of investments made by non-European countries in strategic sectors of the European economy. And he obviously has an eye on China. He's worried that a country like China, which gives state aid to companies or in some cases unfairly dumps its own companies will try to take advantage of European companies, while the same is not true for European countries trying to do business in China. So, France is playing with this idea of an umbrella of protection for European economies vis-a-vis non-European players.
Ben Sheen [00:08:38] But isn't that likely to be controversial among some European members though, Adriano? Because it seems like some Chinese deals are quite beneficial for countries, especially the smaller countries in the periphery. So certainly this speaks the issue we've had in Europe, which is what is good for some of the larger economies won't necessarily be as good for some of the smaller ones. So isn't this simply creating an additional friction point?
Adriano Bosoni [00:08:58] That seems to be the case. So far we have seen that the big three, that is France, Germany, and Italy, are pretty much on the same page. We have seen for instance that last year when a Chinese company bought a German robot maker it created a very big debate in Germany, because there were fears that foreign companies are accessing very, very important know how and technology that is in Germany. Germany and Italy are on the same page when it comes to trying to create an extra layer of protection from non-European investments. But of course then we have Nordic countries like Sweden and the Netherlands, which are traditionally pro free markets and traditionally against protectionism, which have criticized France's proposal. And then we have smaller economies like Greece or Ireland, which are very dependent on foreign investment and they are worried that these kind of additional layers of protection would actually discourage investment and the arrival of the money that they need so much.
Ben Sheen [00:10:08] And as well in the midst of all of this we also have the UK that's struggling to find its feet as it approaches it's actual detachment from the European Union, as well. But it seems like right now some of the struggles that Britain is facing would potentially dissuade other countries from pursuing this agenda, which would take them further away from Europe. In some ways that plays to Macron's favor.
Adriano Bosoni [00:10:28] Yes, the Brexit referendum had a very deep emotional impact on the European Union. It was a shock. They were not expecting it. They were not expecting that result. The EU's reaction to the Brexit referendum was to restart the process of at least conversation. We don't really know how many of these initiatives will be introduced, but at least to restart the debate about the future of the block, which was frozen during the decade because of the crisis. The fragmentation got so profound during the height of the crisis that just the mere idea of talking about a treaty change for instance was absolutely shelved, because if you talked about reforming the EU during a crisis there is a chance that countries actually demand to dismantle some parts of it and to repatriate attributions from the central bureaucracy in Brussels to the national parliament. There was a chance of a Soviet like situation in which you try to solve the problem and you end up dismantling the entire idea. For a decade treaty change was absolutely out of the question. And now that things are a bit calmer and with Brexit fueling a debate about the future, the Europeans have decided that it's time to think about what comes next. It's interesting though that they say you have a multi-speed Europe seems the sensible thing to do, right? You have a continent that is fragmented. You have countries that have different national interests. So, it seems to be a good idea to give everyone the chance to decide what they want to do and whether or not they want to move ahead with integration.
Adriano Bosoni [00:12:07] But this also has significant challenges. First, if you have a core then it probably means that the core would be weaker than the whole thing, and what happens with those countries that are not considered as a part of the core? If you create the core and a bureaucracy and a core in different countries with different speeds then you would have to create bureaucracy to manage those different layers of integration. So there's a chance that this multi-speed Europe thing perpetuates the fragmentation of the EU instead of healing it. I would say it's interesting that the EU is willing to bend to prevent it from breaking, which is a form of pragmatism that we have not seen before, but this does not come without potential problems and challenges.
Ben Sheen [00:12:55] Well certainly I very much look forward to what yourself and the other European team members have been putting a lot of work into for our fourth quarter forecast when we'll be laying out what we see for the coming months both for Europe and France and other European countries. Adriano, thank you so much for taking the time with me today to go really deep into this issue.
Adriano Bosoni [00:13:14] No problem, thank you.
Ben Sheen [00:13:15] Thanks, Adriano. The challenges facing Europe, including the growth of nationalism, trade disputes, and regional divides, are all part of Stratfor's long term forecast in European disintegration. That's a highlighted geopolitical theme in our decade forecast released in 2015, well before anyone started talking about Brexit. You can find our decade forecast, along with all of our geopolitical analysis, at Stratfor Worldview. If you're not already a Worldview member, individual, team, and enterprise subscriptions are available at worldview.stratfor.com. Now for the second part of the podcast. Stratfor's Senior Global Analyst Matthew Bey sits down with Senior Military Analyst Omar Lamrani to discuss the evolving geopolitics of space.
Matthew Bet [00:14:11] Hello, my name is Matthew Bey, and I'm an analyst here at Stratfor. Joining me today is a senior military analyst, Omar Lamrani. Omar, we're here to talk about space. More recently over the past 50, 60 years or so we have seen space emerge as a new geopolitical realm much that we saw say maritime shipping did a couple centuries before that from a long range distance, and then even before that regional shipping. It redefined a lot of different aspects in the way that countries interact with one another. This can have military dynamics, it can have commercial dynamics, it can have civil dynamics. And everybody thinks of the space race being a big thing in the 1950s and 1960s between the USSR and the United States, but now we're seeing a new kind of a space race that's a little bit different. It's not as bipolar. We're starting to see a lot of other countries now challenge the United States and Russia's dominance in space, and one of those is China. When I look at China's space industry I look at it in three different components. You first have the overarching component, which is why China wants to expand its space industry. If we think where that looks into the Chinese strategy overall, China has always been wanting to expand its dominance and hegemony throughout all kinds of realms.
Omar Lamrani [00:15:19] Yes, we're seeing that in the economic sphere, the technological sphere, as well as the military sphere when it comes to space.
Matthew Bet [00:15:25] A good component of that has actually been the collaborative aspect. So while there are military aspects we'll get onto later, China is actually taking more a collaborative approach to a lot of its space programs than what the USSR has done, and that's actually been a pillar of a lot of the dynamics that we're seeing move forward. One of the critical ones for example is the One Belt One Road program. So this is the China massive overarching foreign policy objective to essentially build ties and links that get around some of the choke points in Southeast Asia, but also it's a mechanism to build ties with a lot of different countries. So what China has done with its space program is actually pushed for collaborative efforts with say Pakistan, other countries, in order to get onto what China is just trying to do from a really high level with their space program. For example, we know that China wants to build out its own GPS competitor. It wants to build up its own common links that can be done with other countries, as well. And then of course China is now also pushing forward to more civil aspects as opposed to commercial aspects, which means just space exploration in general. And then another great aspect of that is the development of the Long March 5 and the other Long March rockets. So we've seen Long March 5 now. It's made two launches. The last one was actually a failure I believe. July 2nd I believe was the date. So can you tell me why from a military's perspective the Long March 5 was something that you were interested in?
Omar Lamrani [00:16:46] We're always looking at the ability to launch a heavy payloads into space. The heavier satellites have all kinds of different uses in space when you're talking about it. For instance, early warning satellites are usually pretty heavy. They need a big power source, big antennas. The bigger launch vehicles you have the more satellites you can send to space, and the heavier they are the more capable they are. So obviously from a military perspective, it's trying to control more satellites and heavier satellites into space, that shows a greater capability in the long run as they try to assert their military capacity in space.
Matthew Bet [00:17:19] Right, and we've seen that in the United States like most of the military's more classified launches are always done by the Delta 4. That's the US's heaviest launch providing vehicle right now. So when we broaden up though, I mean military as a battle space. That is a cool concept that's an interesting one that is emerging now in military doctrine in a much broader way than it ever has before. The United States is still pushing for a new space corps that could be potentially established as another part of the Armed Forces. So how would you define that that space is a battle sphere? And then also how does it relate to on the ground operations that are not necessarily always going to be in space?
Omar Lamrani [00:17:54] Well, that goes back to really the US dominance in space, and the US dominance in space also leads to reliance on space assets. It's an unequal dependence, therefore there's always concern within the United States that countries like Russia, China ... Speaking of which, a recent US assessment has indicated that China now has even greater anti-satellite capabilities than the Russians. So in any case, when the United States looks at its dominance and its dependence on space assets, it's always concerned over Chinese and Russian attempts at negating that that reliance and hurting it in space. So, why would the United States be concerned about this? Well first of all, that space dominance gives them the ability to overcome the tyranny of distance. The United States is a global power with force projection capabilities across the world, and to be able to successfully project its capabilities and force across the world they need to have an ability to communicate over very long distances, they need to have navigation capabilities, early warning capabilities, targeting capabilities, all of which space factors in in a major, major way. And so when the United States looks at the rise of China in space much as it has looked at Russia before, they're seeing the Chinese continue to develop anti-satellite capabilities such as missiles, testers, lasers, etc. And then the United States then has to figure out how do they think of space? It's not just anymore just an area of competition in terms of communication, and reconnaissance, and satellite navigation, it's also a war fighting domain.
Matthew Bet [00:19:31] Going back though to one of your points on kind of the communications efforts, one of the things that we've actually seen China be probably even more advanced than the United States is using and leveraging its space assets to be pioneering in certain areas of communication. One of the developments that we've seen China really press forward with over the last two months has been the area of its quantum encryption satellites. This is actually one of the more emerging areas where space is being more used, and it's actually to encrypt messages that are still done by traditional means of communication, which sometimes these satellites also do ground coms, but it actually can give you an unbreakable, or theoretically unbreakable key so that nobody can really crack your code. That's something that actually China is leading the forefront on. Obviously, the United States probably has research that's classified that's going into the same directions, but it's been a pretty visible way that China is now starting to challenge the United States, not only from a launch perspective or a military perspective in terms of physical power, but also just the baseline engineering areas on cutting edge technology, which is going to be an important emerging trend, especially as we start to see space as a battlefield itself start to mature going forward. So the United States though, it's in an interesting position. We've seen the US obviously push more for SpaceX and other private launcher providers
Matthew Bet [00:20:45] to become more of a critical provider of space technologies and space development. In your eyes, Omar, does the United States from a national security argument, see any decline by outsourcing these to companies that are not necessarily as closely tied to the government? What is the United States' mitigation strategy towards that? I mean this is something the US sees happening and obviously has to prepare for.
Omar Lamrani [00:21:09] Yes, absolutely. It's a number of elements. The first one is being able to have a good understanding of what's happening in space, so it's what we call attribution. When there's an attack, the United States needs to understand which state attacked us first before it can deter it or retaliate. If the United States does not know where the attack came from, there's more chances that an attack can happen because that nation or entity would not fear US retaliation. So for instance we're talking about things like space events. Ground based radars are much more discerning than previous generations being built up. There is greater attempts to have a collaborative approach across agencies towards space as they recognize the importance of space as a war domain. And then there's also of course the issue of redundancy. Shielding, physically shield your satellites, but also redundancy in the sense of if one satellite goes offline having other satellites in the works. And there's now what we call the small satellite revolution, and this is actually where it goes to US leveraging private entities to help it with launching micro satellites, launching numerous satellites, being able to replace big satellites in space if there's a conflict that hurts US space capabilities. But this is not a zero sum game. Obviously when we talk about a war in space, that's going to be catastrophic for all sides. The US when it's considering its defenses in space is not only about having measures to replace satellites or shield them more,
Omar Lamrani [00:22:39] it also goes back to the strategy of deterrence, preventing that war from happening in the first place. That's where the US approach towards China is to convince the Chinese that they are a vital stakeholder in space themselves.
Matthew Bet [00:22:53] Right, I mean an important thing when we talk about monitoring space assets to begin with is that the concept of space debris is now kind of an emerging one. I mean it has a lot of sci-fi, people like looking for a point where you could have an accident in space that basically renders certain orbits of space not usable because you essentially have one satellite that creates so much debris that it just stays in orbit and then just hits and destroys satellites or at least damages them severely as they float through the same region. That is something though that is a problem that China is going to have going forward. That's a problem that the United States would have, Japan, any nation that is really dependent on space. And we are starting to see kind of broader collaborative mechanisms or instruments put into place to look at that question, look at how we can more closely coordinate space activity so that such a scenario does not evolve. It's kind of becoming a global commons in some way, much like other things like the environment and things like that. Even though there are military applications in space, it doesn't necessarily mean that the commercial ones aren't important or in some ways more important to the survival of certain countries and their economies. But one important thing about that when we talk about collaboration between the United States and China, that's a really sticky issue considering that right now most of Chinese citizens in the space initiative are banned from working with NASA. So that's obviously got a lot of things
Matthew Bet [00:24:05] that's politicized for military applications and everything else. Still, it's something that is going to develop moving forward, and that is actually still a pillar from the broader level of Chinese strategy is this collaborative aspect. It's something that they would like to do. It's partly because of the commercial aspects, civil aspects. Even though the military rise of China's space power is an important component of their overall national strategy, so is everything else.
Omar Lamrani [00:24:31] And going back to the point of unequal dependence, parts of the reason why China might also be brought into the notion of a war in space is negative beyond the space debris, beyond the increased reliance on commercial aspects, is also the military reliance on space. Unequal dependence may not continue to be the case in the decades to come. Sure, it's going to take a long time for China to reach the number of satellites the United States has in space. It's going to take a long time for China to rely on space the same way the United States does in terms of military applications, but even today when we consider Chinese military technology and the way they operate in a network-centric warfare scenario, they are also looking at navigation satellites, like satellites and constellation. Most of their munitions now are increasingly relying on targeting systems that rely on that space network to provide them with the coordinates. So going forward, this unequal dependence dilemma may actually decline as the United States finds alternatives to space themselves, space assets themselves, including looking at UAV systems that can carry satellites like payloads at high altitudes, while China may actually move into more of a dependence on space assets as they move towards reliance on satellites for military applications.
Matthew Bet [00:25:45] Space is always an interesting subject. This is all the time that we have today. Thank you, Omar, for joining us.
Omar Lamrani [00:25:49] Thank you.
Ben Sheen [00:25:57] That's it for this episode of the Stratfor Podcast. If you'd like to read more about strategic analysis on the future of Europe or the evolving dynamic of space including the militarization of space, be sure to visit us at Stratfor Worldview. If you're not already a member, you can fix that by visiting worldview.stratfor.com to learn more about individual, team, and enterprise level access. You can even contribute to the conversation by sharing your insights in the forums section on Stratfor Worldview. That's where you can engage with other readers, as well as Stratfor analysts, editors, and contributors on the latest developments. Have a comment or an idea for a future episode in the podcast? Email us at email@example.com or give us a call on 1-512-744-4300 extension 3917. Alternatively, leave us a review on iTunes or wherever you subscribe to the podcast. We really appreciate your feedback. And for more geopolitical intelligence, analysis, and forecasting that brings global events into valuable perspective, follow us on Twitter, @Stratfor. Thanks for listening.