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Monday, November 23, 2009

Europe chooses a low profile

The European Union has chosen its leadership for the first time under its new constitution. Belgium’s prime minister, Herman Van Rompuy, was chosen as the bloc’s president and Catherine Ashton, the European commissioner for trade, who is British, was chosen as foreign policy chief. Max Boot points out that the choice of these two relative unknowns shows that the European Union is nothing more than the sum of its parts.
One suspects that the Europeans chose Van Rompuy and Ashton precisely because they are unlikely to threaten national prerogatives over foreign policy. For all their talk of unity and their actions to achieve some in economic policy, European states remain intensely nationalistic when it comes to the core prerogatives of a nation-state, such as defense and foreign policy. They have little desire to subcontract out those responsibilities to bureaucrats in Brussels. As long as that remains the dominant attitude on the continent — and it shows little sign of changing — the nations of the EU will never achieve the aggregate power that, in theory, the size of their population and economy (both larger than those of the U.S.) would entitle them.
The rest of the world is better off that way. By the middle of this century, much of Europe may well be Muslim. Especially under those circumstances, it's better that Europe should remain a second rate power.


At 7:48 AM, Blogger Niko said...

Heh... one of the columns in Finnish paper I read rather said that this selection shows that EU is less than the sum of its parts. I concur with that assessment. Furthermore, Russia and others will continue to handle each country separately and weaken the EU "front" in whatever matter comes up.


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