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Arrábida Meetings

Arrábida Meetings

16-18 May



The 17th annual Arrabida Meeting hosted by the Chairman of the Fundação Oriente, Carlos Monjardino, under the chairmanship of Lord (Chris) Patten, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Chairman of the BBC Trust and former Member of the European Commission in charge of External Relations, was held on May 16-18 around 15 international leaders from EU countries, the United States, Japan, India and Brazil active in politics, business and academia.

The opening session addressed The United States and its ‘pivot’ to Asia, the EU and emerging powers. Participants agreed that the U.S. was not hereby “rebalancing” its profound relationship toward Europe which remains so central. Hence this “policy” should not be considered as a “warning shot” to Europe but is far more an inevitable realignment on American priorities towards Asia, today’s most problematic geopolitical region where trade relations are so high on the agenda. The Atlantic community of democracies is weathering the storm together but requires heightened attention on threats stemming from within its countries, be they political or economic. The concept of the “pivot” was hardly the best terminology infusing a sense of “containing” China. The real worry expressed by the participants is an unintended accidental conflict happening in East Asia such as on the Korean peninsular or in the East or South China Seas as exemplified by unproductive trilateral discussions between its major Chinese, Japanese and American players reminiscent of the rise of a great European power in Europe in the early 20th century. The world is witnessing a moment of immense historical change when, for the first time in 200 years, globalisation is no longer shepherded by Anglo-Saxon powers. Hence the question: how will a globalised rules-based interdependent world no longer governed by the West look like in the future? For the U.S., “it is time for nation-building at home” as expressed by its President. The same inward-lookingness applies to Europe grappling with its current crisis. Hence, the strategic issue to be addressed is how can liberal democracies be put back on their feet precisely at a time where its model should shine when the world is changing so dramatically.

U.S. extended deterrence should enforce the credibility of this power in Asia and Japan must improve its relations toward Korea with India playing an increasing important role. Europe must also look beyond China when looking at Asia and recognise more fully the role of other regional players. Participants also recalled the importance of rules on “global governance” where the rule of law should not be used as a toolbox such as currently by China, a country that still carries limited influence in the world beyond its economic clout. Examples abound such as China’s policy towards the Middle East or Iran. In sum, it is difficult to build a more effective notion of “global governance” when the rising “BRIC” powers have no distinctive ideas to propose.

Participants focussed their discussion at this stage on India going likewise through rough economic times where anger of the public is fuelled by the fear of lost opportunities and a growing sense of humiliation dispelled by its political leaders. Politics are fragmenting at a time when outside threats are increasing and its economy increasingly dependent on energy imports highlighting the major concern of the security of maritime supply lines. Here, China remains a major concern to India. In this light of a weak central government, powerful local state governments and a fragmented Indian foreign policy community where power is now diffused at home and abroad, India favours a nuanced foreign policy which can no longer rest on bygone static frameworks such as those prevalent during the Cold War within the Non-aligned Movement. This has lead India to devise a new “Look East” policy characterised by enhanced engagement in multilateral institutions and, concomitantly, by the development of bilateral relation especially with Japan. Regarding China, “holding the line” in the North and developing naval capacities in the South is the game in town. Last but not the least, fostering a closer relationship with the U.S. has become crucial but without a formal strategic alliance. In sum, efforts are undertaken that the ‘pivot’ does not forget India.

Brazil was yet another “emerging power” high on the conference agenda. The terminology of these rising powers requires a more precise definition inasmuch as they are not homogeneous. Latin America shows different faces, the Atlantic countries, those bordering the Pacific or those qualified as “Bolivarian”. Argentina is going through a serious crisis and Brazil tries to be neither “Atlantic” nor “Pacific”, a country with a vibrant democracy and free press as well as a strong political bargaining process. Latin America is the only continent now at peace with a regional architecture reminiscent of Europe such as the Mercosur. In sum, Brazil is not a “fragile” but rather a “non-functionally solid” democracy with low economic growth however blessed by high employment and thus content with itself.  This “model” is however not sustainable with low savings and investment rates risking to lead the country into the “medium income trap” and to mediocrity.

An ongoing concern to participants: democracies will not necessarily protect off-hand international rules of game in the future.  Emerging democracies will also certainly wish to “pick and choose” and play one day within and the other outside these rules as befit their national interests. The task ahead will be severe: to reform the post-World War II institutions still governing the world today.

A second major topic for this year’s meeting was the future of European defence in an age of austerity which the European Union will readdress ten years after the first formulation in 2003 of a European Security Strategy. Then, a unique convergence between leading Member States was at hand between France, Germany and the United Kingdom allowing for a common vision building on a structured defence cooperative mechanism: procedures and institutions were fundamental in creating political allowing those wishing to move head to form an “avant-garde” in these fields.   This positive advancement was stemmed by the Eurozone crisis to the extent that the last European Council devoting its attention to defence was held in December 2008. Participants therefore welcomed that defence will be high on the December 2013 summit of Heads of States and Governments: Since 2008, a European Defence Agency was created but without any new significant EU missions when compared to the 27 between 2003 and 2008. Although the concept of  “pooling and sharing” of defence utilities has been devised, the European External Service (EEAS) has been reluctant to take on board defence issues and the High Representative has never even put defence on her agenda. Participants worry that expectations from the December Summit are not high due to different strategic cultures abounding within and between the Member States and notably between France-United Kingdom vis-à-vis Germany. Also, the EU has to define its strategic priorities more clearly whether towards its southern or eastern neighbourhoods or be it its interests and values. Europe’s key interests are not compatible with only a 4% of military deployment capacity. Europe must also upgrade its weak and cumbersome decision-making process and capabilities need urgent review and restructuring lest Europe loose its clout as a “hard” power. In conclusion, Europe must also define its rules of the use of force and engagement, such a highly political divisive issue where national sovereignty comes to the fore. Although participants fear that no major breakthrough will come about at the end of the year, the hope remains that at the very least a European White Paper on defence capabilities will be launched on this occasion. A new “narrative” will be required explaining to the citizens of Europe where threats lie and how they be assumed.

The future of the European Union was likewise of deep concern to the participants and notably the issues of democratic legitimacy when addressing the current economic and financial crisis. The limits of political and social acceptance have been reached requiring a fine-tuning and calibration of responses given so far. Can the EU really achieve a more integrated EMU was a central question addressed by the participants. Nationalisation of successes and Europeanisation of failures can no longer be the game in national Member States’ capitals. “Muddling through” reactive responses to the crisis are no longer sufficient to overcome deep structural problems face by the European economy. New avenues need to be ushered in with greater accountability. How to deepen EMU whilst sustaining and reinforcing the integrity of the EU and its Single Market as a whole is the task ahead.

This topic was addressed in greater detail in the concluding session devoted to new dimensions of European integration: A new governance for the Eurozone? Participants stressed that, at the European level, it is crucial to advance towards a banking union and to go further towards a wide scope financial union.  Financial integration remains the driving force of the crisis: A “One money” programme needs to be fully consistent with a “One market” programme. A second priority to address is, from a political viewpoint, the crucially fundamental respect of the primacy of the national dimension of politics. The EU must allow its Member States the required space to deliver the social goods their citizens expect and rightfully demand. Perception and reality are the hallmarks of today’s Euro area crisis. But, perception is now far more important than reality. This is why trust must come back lest the European project meet its demise. Tensions raging within the European family of nations must be overcome, be they between citizens and EU institutions, citizens and their national governments or, last but not the least, between Member States themselves.  Linking again the European Project to the consent of citizens is the most urgent task to be grappled by the leaders. To start, clear economic and political prerogatives on what can and cannot be undertaken at Member States and EU levels need to be devised which may imply Treaty changes.

The 18h Arrabida Meeting will be convened in the spring of 2015.

16 May
Afternoon arrival of participants at Lisbon Airport & transfer to Arrábida Monastery

Drinks followed by opening dinner at 20.30

17 May   |  9.30 - 12.45


Chair: Carlos Monjardino,

Chairman,Fundação Oriente, Lisbon

Charles A. Kupchan,

Professor of international affairs at Georgetown University, Washington DC; Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, New York

Vikram Singh Mehta,

Chairman of Brookings India, New Delhi

Marcílio Marques Moreira,

Member of the Presidential Commission on Public Ethics, Rio de Janeiro

15.00 -18.00

Chair: José Cutileiro,

Former Secretary General, Western European Union

António Vitorino,

President, Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute, Paris; former Member of the European Commission (JHA) and of the European Parliament; former Deputy Prime Minister & Defence Minister of Portugal 2


Keynote Speaker: José Manuel Durão Barroso,

President of the European Commission

18 May  |  10.00 -12.00


Chair: Lord (Chris) Patten,

Chairman, Arrábida Meetings

Vítor Gaspar,

Minister of Finance, Portugal

Ana Palacio,

Member of the Consejo de Estado; Member of Advisory Board on Foreign Affairs and Security to EU President Van Rompuy; Former Foreign Minister and Member of Parliament, Spain

Shahin Vallée,

Member of the Cabinet and Economic Advisor of the President of the European Council, Brussels