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EU loses most from US-instigated conflict: China Daily editorial

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-09-20 19:51

European Union flags flutter outside the European Commission headquarters. [Photo/Agencies]

The European Union as a whole will prove to be the biggest loser no matter how the conflict between Russia and Ukraine plays out. The consequences for European countries are not just economic and well-being shocks but the geopolitical implications as well.

That the share of EU enterprises losing money has risen from the normal average of 8 percent to 15 percent in the months after the start of the conflict and the share of enterprises that risk defaulting on their debt has surged from 10 percent to 17 percent in the same period, according to European Investment Bank, speaks volumes about how many European economies have been impacted by the conflict.

Although not all European countries heavily depend on Russia for oil and gas, Russia is such an important supplier to the international oil and gas markets that the disruption in trade, primarily due to the sanctions against this major supplier, has translated into higher prices, which has led to higher cost of production in a wide range of fields. This is particularly so in European countries.

Those EU countries, Germany and France included, which heavily depend on Russia for oil and gas, are bearing the brunt of the economic sanctions that Washington has orchestrated against Russia.

As a result, inflation has become a scourge that is having a serious impact on the quality of life of the people in EU countries. The prices of many core products such as wheat, fertilizers and gas are constantly on the rise, and they are expected to rise by 6 percent this year, according to estimates by experts. The rising prices will stifle demand, which will in turn affect economic growth and push up food and energy prices. It is a vicious cycle for the overall economic situation in EU countries.

No wonder protests have been held in some EU countries against military support to Ukraine, with the protesters demanding that their governments focus on people's daily needs. Indeed, the most vulnerable groups in EU countries have been hit the hardest by the worst inflation in decades.

If the EU had achieved anything in asserting its own presence as an independent political bloc on the stage of international politics prior to the start of the conflict, the worst conflict on the continent since the end of World War II has undone all its endeavors to become a political force that can maintain its distance from the United States.

In launching its proxy war against Russia, the US has been able to reassert its leadership over the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The EU, fearful of standing on its own two feet, has followed the US lead. Throwing its weight behind Ukraine under the leadership of the US is a choice the EU has made. But there has been a price to pay. While the US has been doing very nicely out of the conflict, thank you very much, the EU economy and the living standards of its people are taking a battering, and its future of becoming an independent political pole in the global geopolitical arena is looking ever more unattainable.

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