As long as these institutions of the EU and NATO or the US military function properly, the danger of a renewed power struggle between the major nations of the European continent should be kept in check. However, there are three developments that could lead to problems in this context.
The first is the centrifugal forces to which the European Union is subject. The first result of these divisions was the Brexit, but increasingly the relationship with the EU is also becoming problematic in other large countries such as France, Poland and Italy. France is balancing on a fine line between maintaining security independence and building fiscal union, Poland is struggling with the EU institutions’ understanding of the rule of law and how to deal with migrants, and Italy is increasingly confronted with the question of how the introduction of the euro actually benefits them.
The second problem is the numerous conflict hotspots that have arisen in a semicircle around the European Union, from the Sahel and Libya to Syria and Ukraine. Within this region, new wars can arise at virtually any time, involving other powers such as Russia, Turkey or Iran. The European Union will hardly remain without a response to this development if it does not want to lose all ability to act in foreign policy. A reaction will therefore occur sooner or later, and this could contribute to new groupings within the EU and also NATO, as the example of Libya has already shown.
The third development concerns the relationship between Germany and Russia. While the US is more and more obviously trying to disrupt relations between Berlin and Moscow, Germany’s approach to the North Stream 2 project has also created many enemies within the European Union. But Germany has also always defined its foreign policy sovereignty to a large extent in terms of its relations with Russia. It will not be able to tolerate too much interference in this relationship in the long term, which in turn is likely to strain relations with the Eastern European states and the USA.