Is the United States Dividing Europeans?

Article published on Feb. 4, 2004
community published
Article published on Feb. 4, 2004

This article has not been vetted by an editor at Paris HQ

The political disagreements between EU member states cannot be ignored. Blair, Aznar and Kwasniewski are following the North American lead but does the US intend to break up Europe?

President Aznar ended his eight year term of office by paying one last visit to George Bush in the United States. At the same time, his political successor, the Conservative Mariano Rajoy, had breakfast at Downing Street with Tony Blair, who was curious about the characteristics of the forthcoming Spanish president, who is a potential ally in what is a climate of unspoken and ever changing friendships. Much to the delight of the Eagle nation, Aznar declared his Atlantic bid rather than making a more traditional reference to France whilst in the United States. Meanwhile Mariano Rajoy was appeasing Tony Blair’s doubts by assuring him that Spain’s coming government guidelines would only serve to deepen the Anglo-American friendship. Consequentially, France’s representative, Jospin, has found himself with a considerable part to play in the idea of a European Union that is as culturally and socially diverse as the United States, a Europe that promotes plurality and international policies based on international law.

Two different Europes face the United States: to ‘replicate’ or to seek independence at all costs?

Spain and Poland, two of the United State’s allies in the Iraq conflict, obstructed the European Constitution by their actions. Aznar’s stance was welcomed and applauded by Polish businessmen. For their part, France and Germany opted out of the Stability Pact and Spain fiercely attacked the budgetary procedure. Europe is a two-speed singular institution, the rich versus the Mediterranean, those who pay and those who do not. Europe can be both Atlantic and Mediterranean, it is tautological by nature. It is possible to see a neo-liberal Europe, which stands and admires American military and economic development based on an imperialist interpretation of Realpolitik. And yet there is also the social Europe, moderator and driving force of international law. The European Union is a meeting place for these two Europes. The United States recognises this and it is for this reason that it toughens its discourse, complicating European consensus on foreign policy. The stupidity of the European Union is that it is ready to intensify the frenzied speed which is dictated from the White House. The existence of the ‘eagle subsidies’, that is, states loyal to Washington, allows the eagles to play a game of Manichaeism and to light the dialectic discussion. Unfortunately, when Europe takes up this debate it frequently results in polarisation of its opinions with such absurd concepts as ‘the old and new Europe’. The issue goes past being a simple strategy and directors of the ‘old Europe’ become consumed by a fictitious, almost ‘romantic’ notion which creates the identity of the European citizen and all that is ‘European’ merely by opposition to Washington. In France and Germany this discussion has had the power to produce electoral profits due to unstable economic climates which can act as a breeding ground for liberal policies that could well be seen to welcome Thatcherite apprentices.

Leave Nice behind and find a unified policy

Javier Solana has explored conclusions on this debate. He has written about the possibility of a ‘Superior’ European Foreign Office. Solana understands that the unification of European foreign policy will not be easy and he moves away from decisive ideas such as European armed forces or the definitive quality of the Constitution. He demands that the privileged foreign offices be moved to Brussels by each State. Yet Europe’s states will not allow their foreign policy to be dictated to them, something which is already a threat in a context of economic globalization. Consensus and strategic planning for the unity of action will be vital if we do not want to see the consequences of this division take its toll economically.

The United States does not divide Europeans

The United States does not divide Europeans; it merely tightens the reins leaving Europeans to divide themselves. Aznar and Blair (Blair by political tradition and Aznar by eagerness for international prominence and Spain’s economic interest) seem to be travelling along with the United States until the reign loosens and it is this attitude which makes consensus difficult. Next to Bush, Spain and Poland are playing with political blackmail by blocking the European Constitution and therefore asking for a treaty which will urge everybody at all levels to create a new political stage for the European Union. Elsewhere, the Franco-German axis must re-establish its budget policy in a Europe which increasingly gives fewer Cohesion Funds to existing receptors and must revise its international policy, by understanding that in order to gain a lasting and effective budget, the logical solution for Spain and other countries is to search for economic fruits from their friendship with the United States. Brussels must try to compensate for this recent imbalance and create an economic atmosphere which will ease cohesion surrounding Europe’s own foreign policy and emancipating it from US influence. Equally it must not let any country in a position to benefit financially from a trans – Atlantic friendship have an effect on Europe.

There are economic suspicions about foreign policy. The EU pays the economic price of its political fragmentation and the United States helps us in this aspect. Against the background of ever changing European budget policy the lack of European competence about foreign policy means that some nation states see a relationship with the United States as more advantageous, which in turn prevents a univocal European foreign policy.