By Nawab Khan
BRUSSELS, July 8 (KUNA) -- The first major casualty of the Eurozone crisis is the European Union itself with its global credibility and standing badly bruised which might take decades to recover and heal.
The world had been keenly observing Europe's integration process to be adopted as a model. Regional organisations such as the Association of South East Asian Nations, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the African Union saw in the economic success with the creation of a Single Market of the European Union a paradigm to be followed.
Moreover, the world has been impressed by the success of the EU to maintain peace and security in the Union since the end of the WWII.
But due to the deep debt and financial crisis which rapidly spread to Europe from the United States in 2008 coupled with the inability to resolve the crisis the EU model is fast losing its global appeal.
Public squabbles among big powers like France, Germany and the UK and populist policies have also contributed to the decline of Europe's credibility.
Five eurozone countries, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus have requested bailouts to overcome their crises and global investors would now be asking which euro member would be next to ask for help.
Moreover, the malaise that has afflicted the single currency, euro, only ten years after it began circulation leaves many pondering if this is the right path to follow. And according to European analysts the crisis is expected to continue for many years.
Unimaginable a few years ago, Asian countries like China and India are now offering financial assistance to deal with the eurozone crisis.
On the political and security front also the EU is weakening. The EU's double-standards on its human rights policies have led to the loss of much of the attraction for the European model.
The European Union launched its Lisbon Treaty with great fanfare in 2009 in order to play a bigger role in shaping the international agenda but the financial crisis has curtailed the capability of the 27-member bloc to play any decisive role.
As the conflict in Libya clearly demonstrated, without the American intelligence and refuelling support through NATO the British-French led operation would have not been possible.
Europe today lacks both the financial capability and the political will to act as an influential global player.
It is therefore no surprise that because of the decline of European power and the rise of Asia in the economic and geopolitical areas, the focus of the American security strategy has now shifted to the Asia-Pacific region.
Many are now asking the question what the EU can do to revive its world reputation and limit the damage to its credibility.
Analysts opine that first and foremost Europe has to fix its economic and financial crisis through major reforms of the eurozone and the governance of the 17-member euro area. This would require a closer monetary and economic union, a step European leaders appear to take now although belatedly.
Secondly, it needs to speak with a single European voice and be more coherent on foreign policy matters in order to be taken seriously by the world. That was the main goal of the creation of the EU's external relations body, known as the European External Action Service under the leadership of an High Representative. (end) nk.asa KUNA 080900 Jul 12NNNN