European Union’s policy towards Taiwan in the light of its China policy
- the limits of the EU’s role in International Politics
Paper prepared for delivery at the Conference organized by the
Center for Contemporary China, National Tsing Hua University,
Taiwan, Hsinchu, 12 January 2007
Tamkang University, Graduate Institute of European Studies
I would like to express my most cordial thanks with this paper to: 吳介民主任吳泉源所長陳志柔教授 陳明祺教授古明君博士 for the scholarship, valuable advice and new ideas I have
received during my stay at Qing Hua University, for great help from 葉國豪助理王秀萍助理劉仕傑助理as well for the wonderful time I shared with you.
The growing economic strength of the EU has induced a debate on its role in International
Politics. Since the attempts to solve this problem were made by either those, who perceive the
organization as a potential state or those who see it only as a form of intergovernmental coordination
and cooperation between the states, the spectrum of answers is also varied. Words like: ‘actorness’
(Sjöstedt 1976), ‘presence’ (Allen and Smith 1990, 1998), ‘role’ (Hill 1993; 1998), ‘impact’ (Ginsberg
2001), ‘normative power’ (Manners 2000a; 2002) or ‘emerging global power’ (Piening 1997:1) were used to describe its international presence.
The uniqueness of the EU can be explained by its sui generis decision-making process, institutions, their competences, policy instruments as well as its goals and values. However, as far as
this approach constitutes the valuable starting point for the analysis of the European international
presence, it has one fault; it is not sufficient. It is especially true in the case of the European Union
where different areas of its external policy are characterized by different competences.
The purpose of this paper will be to show, that the European Union’s role in the international
politics is not defined only by its institutional features, procedures and preferences but also by
external factors. The ‘internal’ developments in the EU are of great significance for the whole world
(Allen and Smith 1990) but only combined with the ‘outside’ political and economic setting as well as
external expectations, determine its capabilities as a global actor.
Therefore, to understand the EU’s impact in the world, we need to see the whole picture, the
‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Meanwhile, this paper is based on the belief that the actorness of the EU has many faces, depending on the problem in question. Thus, instead of explaining all the variations, it is
necessary to concentrate on particular issue area. There is already abundant literature on the
organization’s impact on its closer and further neighbors, including CEECs, Mediterranean countries
and even Russia. However, despite the growing significance of East Asia partners for Europe,
especially China and Taiwan, there has not been much interest in the topic. To fill in this gap, the
author has chosen the case of Taiwan. Nevertheless, going globally, beyond the ‘European village’,
was not the only reason. Taiwan’s special political status makes interactions with it more complicated
for any partner and could be treated as a difficult test for Europe with ambition of becoming a global
actor. For the same reason, the case of Taiwan must be considered in the light of EU’s China policy,
which has been elevated to the one of the European priorities in recent years.
ASEM The Asia – Europe Meeting
CEECs Central and Eastern European Countries CFSP Common Foreign and Security Policy CJTF Combined Joint Task Forces EC European Community
EDC European Defense Community EEC European Economic Community EP European Parliament
EPC European Political Co-operation ESDI European Security and Defense Identity EU the European Union
JHA Justice and Home Affairs
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
PRC People’s Republic of China
ROC Republic of China
TEU Treaty on European Union
WEU Western European Union
WHO World Health Organization
Europe - ‘A political dwarf, and a military worm’
International capacity of the state, from the traditional realist point of view is based on ‘high politics’
conception. If we approach the EU’s diplomacy from this angle (still keeping in mind that it is not a
state), we should logically focus on Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). When we look at
the literature, the CFSP’s performance is described as far from satisfactory. EU’s inefficiency in this area was alarming already in 70’s and 80’s over the coup in Poland or Soviet invasion in
1Afghanistan. After the Gulf War, the Belgian Foreign Minister declared the EU to be ‘a political
2dwarf, and a military worm’. After 2003 Iraq Freedom Operation, the lack of consensus among ‘Old
3Europe’ and ‘New Europe’ became visible. Karen E. Smith simply describes the EU’s record in the
4wars in Croatia and Bosnia as dismal.
The most important reason for the limits of the CFSP’s performance can be attributed to the
unwillingness of the member states to ‘pull’ substantial powers to the European level, as they consider
the issues to be too close to national sovereignty, thus too ‘sensitive’. Neither, they would get much support from their voters, as Europeans are rather unwilling to increase defense budgets of their
countries, having in mind other necessities of ‘welfare states’. It could be explained that in the absence of an identifiable threats after the Cold War, creation of a defense policy does not seem to be
an essential problem. What is very important from our point of view, is that creating a strong defense
5and security policy could be considered as ‘something of a thankless task’, but only if the European Union is not interested in playing political role beyond its borders and becoming a partner for
America. However, even if some member states’ have aspirations of this kind, not all them.
Approaches to this policy area differ and can be divided into three main positions: Atlanticists,
proponents of European own defense and security and countries in favor of ‘soft’ security, mostly
Let’s us take a quick look at the historical developments that led to this situation. Despite the
1 張亞中?歐洲統合? 政府間主義與超過家主義的互動?揚智文化?台北市1998?p. 162。 2 Belgian Foreign Minister, New York Times, 25 January 1991, cited by J. McCormick, Understanding the European Union, Palgrave, Basingstoke 2002, p. 197. 3th Cen-Chu Shen, Meishian Lee, Security Strategic Choices for the European Union after its 5 Enlargement: An Analysis thof the Neo-liberal Institutionalism, International Conference on the 5 Enlargement of EU: Challenge and Perspective,
Tamkang University, Tamshui, December 19, 2006, Draft, p. 23-24. 4 K.E. Smith, EU external relations, in: M. Cini, European Union Politics, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, p. 238. 5 A. Deighton, Western European Union 1954-1997: Defense, Security, Integration, European Interdependence Research
Unit, Oxford 1997, p. 5. 6 Ch. Bretherton, J. Vogler, op. cit., p. 204.
reluctance towards sharing powers in this area, ubiquitous from the first days of European Integration,
members of the European Economic Community (EEC), facing turbulent years of Cold War and even
more uncertain dangers that emerged in the post-Cold War environment, had no choice, but to co-
operate, even on those ‘sensitive’ problems. This tension between the need to act collectively on one
hand and retaining national autonomy on the other, is visible in all areas of European integration, but
as far as foreign and security policy is involved, the national autonomy has always seemed to be
decisive throughout 50 years of European integration.
After the World War II, Europe, hiding under the security umbrella of NATO, could concentrate its
efforts upon economic development and internal problems. Attempts to organize European security
and defense were abandoned after the failure of the French proposal on European Defense
Community (EDC) in 1954. Western European Union (WEU) created in the same year for problems
not solved by the EDC, above all the question of German rearmament, had laid dormant for much of
the Cold War until its reactivation in 1984. Traditional subjects of International Relations – security and defense – were excluded from the agenda of European Economic Community established with
the Treaty of Rome in 1957. However, changing international situation, especially the fluctuating
superpower relations, United States’ relative decline and growing transatlantic tension, pressed for
action. Thus, in 1970, foreign ministers of the EEC approved the Luxembourg Report, setting up
European Political Co-operation (EPC). Already from the beginning, it was established as a separate
7 framework and denied a treaty base until the entry into force of the Single European Act in 1987.
Even then, the goal of the committee working on the mentioned Treaty’s political aspects aimed at asserting ‘the EC’s international political identity’ without ‘alienating a sensitive United States by
8appearing to undermine NATO. Thus, the cooperation continued on its modest goals of consultation,
cooperation and common action, whit decisions taken unanimously. Moreover, while foreign
ministers were meeting within the EPC, their defense counterparts were still confined only to NATO’s
9Eventually, ‘accelerating history’ in 1990s, led to the new Treaty on European Union (TEU), signed
in 1992, which established the CFSP and provided the framework for future defense policy. It
introduced the three – pillar structure, keeping CFSP policy in the second pillar, alongside Pillar I –
7 H. Wallace, W. Wallace, M.A. Pollack, Policy-Making in the European Union, Oxford University Press, New York 2005,
p. 433. 8 D. Dinan, Ever Closer Union, An Introduction to European Integration, Macmillan, Hampshire 1999, p. 117. 9 Jacques Delors, College of Europe in Brussels, 1989: History is accelerating and we should make it with her…
10, comprised of three Communities: European Coal and Steal Community European Community
1112ECSC, European Community EC and Euratom, and Pillar III – Justice and Home Affairs (JHA). The official internet page of the European Union states, that ‘The Treaty on European Union (TEU)
13represents a new stage in European integration since it opens the way to political integration’, even though, the three pillar structure for many supporters of the federal vision of the Europe, created a
profound obstacle on the way to supranational, more cohesive and efficient cooperation in the foreign
policy area. As a matter of fact, Pillar II involves an intergovernmental decision making with the
Commission and the European Parliament (EP) playing only a modest role. While accommodating all
divergent positions of the member states, the TEU stipulates that the common defense ‘might’ be realized in the future, but does not give details when, in which way, with what instruments and
There were many further initiatives to endorse the idea of EU’s security and defense after the TEU. There were expressed in following Treaty of Amsterdam (1977), St. Malo French-British Summit in
1998, Cologne European Council and Helsinki Summit in 1999, Treaty of Niece of 2000 and
eventually the Constitutional Treaty. Just to mention the development of European Security and
Defense Identity (ESDI) within NATO from 1994, fostering stronger relationship between the EU and
WEU, as the later is considered to play the role of not only ‘the defense component of the European
15Union’ but also ‘the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance’, elaboration of the Combined Joint Task Forces (CJTF) - multinational, multi – service formation enabling the WEU to use NATO’s collective assets in order to carry out operations under WEU command, establishment of a military
division in the form of the Rapid Reaction Force, which should act where NATO as a whole is not
16engaged. Despite all of those attempts, it must be admitted that with respect to hard security, EU still,
as the EC previously, heavily depends on NATO. There are several security organizations in Europe:
OSCE, NATO, EU, WEU and the Council of Europe, but their functions are overlapping, their
command is not really coordinated, and none of them can be recognized as a EU’s military arm with
10 Pillar I covers the major internal policies, as well as external policies, such as: trade, elements of environmental policy,
many areas of ‘cooperation’ and ‘association’ with third countries. Policy in this pillar is formulated according to the
Community method. 11 TEU replaced EEC with EC. 12 Third pillar’s name was changed from JHA to ‘Police and judical cooperation in criminal matters’ after some areas which were previously subject to intergovernmental cooperation in the field of justice and home affairs were transferred to
Pillar I with Treaty of Amsterdam (1997). 13 Treaty of Maastricht on European Union, http://europa.eu/scadplus/treaties/maastricht_en.htm (visited: 2006.10.10) 14 Treaty on European Union (TEU), Art. B . 15 Declaration I attached to the Treaty on European Union. 16 The Guardian digital edition, D. Brown, 11 April 2001, The European Rapid Reaction Force, http://www.guardian.co.uk/theissues/article/0,6512,400394,00.html, last visited: 2006.12.21.
sufficient forces on its direct disposal.
Although, the WEU and NATO expanded its task beyond collective defense in 1990s and European
Council recognized the capability of Union to conduct some crisis management operations, it is
widely recognized, that the EU itself, is not able to conduct independent military action even in its
neighborhood, and all the more, can not be expected to do so outside Europe, at least single-handed.
It follows from the above very short description, that Union’s traditional foreign and security policy has shown its limitations several times. Regardless of many reasons for this situation, the result is that
political structures of the European Union lack organization’s own military support. Although, its
17 and diplomacy has been harnessed with Common European Security and Defence Policy CESDP
18European Union Rapid Reaction Force EURRF, its military capacity is still limited. Therefore, it is
19natural that voices that ‘defense is the key to the development of the Community’s place in the world’
are not rare. However, those who support the creation of military instruments directly at the disposal
of the EU, must admit, that in spite of the aspirations for the development of the defense dimension
20expressed in the TEU, it will not happen in the foreseeable future. Does it mean that the EU can not
be considered as a strong global player?
Europe – ‘Economic giant’
Here we come to the point at which it is necessary to eschew old realist approach to international
politics and give some attention to the more recent theories, which stress the phenomenon of the
complex interdependence. According to liberal schools, significant changes in the nature of security
and power, which intensified in the post-Cold War era, highlighted the importance of the economic
dimension of international system, as well as growing role of non-state actors. Moreover, under the
new circumstances, the utility of military power is declining. There are even voices going further than
this, indicating that, armies, defense industries, and intelligence infrastructure, which are amassed for
21conflict, may even encourage such events. The European Union may be considered a particular
17 For more information, see: C. Portela, Addressing the CESDP’s Civilian – Military Mismatch, BITS Policy Note 01.3, ISSN 1434-3274, June 2001, available: http://www.bits.de/public/policynote/pn01-3.htm. 18 For more information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Rapid_Reaction_Force 19 C. Hill, The capability – expectations cap, or conceptualizing Europe’s international role, Journal of Common Market Studies 1993, 31, 3: 305-25. 20 Article J.4  of the TEU. 21 Daniel N. Nelson, Great Powers and Global Insecurity, in: H. Gärtner, A. Hyde – Price, E. Reiter, Europe’s New
Security Challenges, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder London, 2001p. 355.
beneficiary of these changes. They resulted in blurring the lines between domestic and international,
as well as between the trade issues and non-trade issues and created new opportunities for
22 international organizations.
Therefore, focusing on CFSP poses the danger of neglecting the strongest EU’s assets in foreign
23policy, which is the economic presence. It must be remembered, that already the founding states of
the EEC had mostly economic goals in mind. Their aim was to create a common market in order to
24bring prosperity and ‘closer union’ for peoples of Europe. This, although at first sight looking may look like internally focused plan, from the beginning exerted considerable external impact. The sole
creation of the internal market was sufficed to influence third countries, not to mention that some of
the members brought their colonial ties into the organization. The elimination of internal barriers to
trade in goods as the first step on the way towards the common market (CM), the goal stated already
in the Treaty of Rome, besides changing the relationship among the countries involved, also had
external impact on third countries in the form of trade creation inside the free trade area and trade
25diversion. Since then, many further steps have been taken towards deeper economic integration,
starting from the common external tariff (CET) introduced in 1968, through internal market program
and the latest, also the most visible - the common currency introduced in 1999 becoming the legal
tender in twelve member states since 2002.
Already mentioned Belgian minister, very disappointed with Union’s performance in politics and military field, at the same time, called the organization an ‘economic giant’. The statistical figures
26prove him to be correct. EU-15 exports to the rest of the world in 2003, accounted for over 23% of
world exports, whilst imports accounted for over 22% of world imports. The comparable figures for
27the USA are almost 14% and almost 23% and for Japan almost 9% and 7%. In terms of population, the EU market, after the enlargement in 2004, with over 450 million people, is much larger than US
market, which numbers just over 250 million people and Japanese, which numbers around 125
million, ranking the third after China and India. In 2002, all EU-15, except Luxembourg, were among
22 N. Bayne, S.Woolcock, The New Economic Diplomacy, Decision-making and negotiations in international economic
relations, Ashgate, Burlington, Hampshire 2003, p. 7. 23 S. Marsh, H. Mackenstein, The International Relations of the European Union, Pearson Longman, London 2005, p.52. 24 Preamble to the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community. 25 S. Marsh, H. Mackenstein, op. cit., p. 29. 26 Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal,
Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom. 27 IMF (International Monetary Fund) <http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2004/01/data/dbginim.cfm>.
28 the 35 nations with the highest GDP.
The examples could follow beyond the scope of a brief paper, but the fact important for as is that,
despite high unemployment rate, adverse demographic trends, low growth rates and other problems,
the EU’s economic power has long been recognized. The enlargement to Bulgaria and Romania,
which is about to take place in January 2007, could serve as the latest evidence of EU’s economic
29attraction, as both countries wish to benefit from membership in the world’s biggest trading block.
We are now in a position to say, that so far it has been rather economic presence and Community’s
30position in the world trade, which are fundamental to its external activities. Undoubtedly, its impact is considerable not only in the neighborhood of the EU but also globally, as the opposite to limited
abilities in the military sphere. The question now arises, whether economic presence is sufficient for
the actor to be considered as a global player.
The suggestion made by S. Marsh and H. Mackenstein might be informative: ‘the Community is not as powerful an economic actor as it could be’ and further: ‘to fulfill its potential as an international economic force, the EU would have to be able to shape positively the international economic
environment’. In other words, presence is only prerequisite to actorness, which also demands the state
or, as in our case – organization to exploit available opportunities. It must be kept in mind that the role
31of the EU does not depend only on its ‘being’ but also on ‘acting’. Purposive action and its consequences decide how actor perceives its role and what others would expect from him in the future.
This point would be considered in the context of Taiwan, in the next section.
EU, ‘One China policy’ and Taiwan
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the EU and the PR China 1975, Europeans
follow ‘One China’ policy. Thus, relations between the EU and Taiwan remain at the non-diplomatic
level. Although, ‘the EU supports the peaceful resolution of differences between the People’s Republic
of China and Taiwan, rejecting the use or threat of force,’ its means of intervention are rather constrained. The cultivation of trade relations remains the only mean in Taiwanese hands to break
28 World Bank (July 2003), World Development Indicators, http://www.roldbank.org.data/databytopic. 29 Bulgaria and Romania ready to join the EU on 1 January 2007.
http://ec.europa.eu/commission_barroso/president/focus/bulgaria_romania_en.htm, (last visited 2006.12.15) 30 Ch. Bretherton, J. Vogler, op. cit., p. 44. 31 Ibid., p. 33.
32Indeed, Taiwan’s economic importance for the EU has been increasing since the end of the 1960s. It is the EU’s 14th trade partner in the world and its 4th largest trade partner in Asia, after Japan, the
33People’s Republic of China and South Korea. The EU is Taiwan’s 4th trading partner, accounting for around 11% of Taiwan’s foreign trade. In a year 2004, the EU was the largest provider of FDI to
Taiwan. Island’s companies seek more and more opportunities to develop their business in the EU. In
342005, Taiwan was the 9th supplier of merchandise to the EU. Despite strong economic ties, Taiwan
is not recognized as a sovereign state, but only given the status of a ‘self-governed entity’ and both actors established relations only ‘in non-political areas, such as economic relations, science, research,
35education and culture’. However, in comparison to the ascending international power as China, with
great economic and demographic potential, Taiwan’s cards in the world politics are not strong enough,
at least nowadays. To take a simple example, since 2004, the EU become China’s first trade partner
36and China has become EU’s second trade partner.
Yet, when we take a closer look at the relationship between Taiwan and the EU, we can say that they
are rather substantive, despite the official policy of non-recognition. The above mentioned economic
data provided an example, but there are many more cases, that bring both ‘entities’ much closer. Consultations between the European Commission and Taiwan take place each year, alternately in
Brussels and Taibei on a senior official level. The European Commission established the permanent
37presence on the island, opening the ‘European Economic and Trade Office’ in March 2003. Moreover, sixteen EU Member States have their offices in the capital. European Chamber of
38Commerce in Taipeirepresents business interest of European companies.
Furthermore, the EU interacts with China and Taiwan, with the status of separate customs territory, in
the WTO level. WTO provides an institutionalized forum for the EU to develop its relations with
32 Cen-chu Shen, Common Foreign Policy of European Union (EU): Its implications and influences on EU – ROC (Taiwan) relations, in: EC Integration and EC-ROC Relations, ed. By Cen-Chu Shen, Yann-Huei Song, Institute of
European and American Studies, Academia Sinica, Taipei 1995, p. 126. 33 EU – Taiwan, Trade and Investment Factfile, 歐盟-台灣?貿易及投資概況, 2006, European Economic and Trade
Office, http://www.deltwn.ec.europa.eu/eutwfactfile2006.pdf 34 EU – Taiwan, Trade and Investment Factfile, op. cit,. internet version 35 European Union’s official internet page, EU’s relations with Taiwan,
http://ec.europa.eu/comm/external_relations/taiwan/intro/index.htm 36 Mignonne Man-jung Chan, EU-China Economic Relations and Implications for Taiwan, paper for the: International Conference on The Emerging Global Role and Tasks of the European Union, organized by: Institute of International
Relations, National Chengchi University, 19,20 December 2006, Taipei, Taiwan, p. 5. 37 European Economic and Trade Office, Taiwan, http://www.deltwn.cec.eu.int/CH/homepage.htm 38 European Chamber of Commerce in Taipei http://www.ecct.com.tw/