OPINION

EU accord

The fact that the 15 EU member states succeeded in forging a hard-fought compromise during Monday’s emergency summit carries more political weight than the actual crisis itself. In fact, the EU stance on Iraq is only the tip of the iceberg. The Washington-orchestrated letter that was signed by eight European leaders was not one of the clouds that occasionally gather over European skies. It was, qualitatively speaking, different from all other internal tiffs to date, precisely because it constituted a challenge to the prospect of European integration per se. The manner in which the Bush administration has dealt with the objections of the Franco-German axis on Iraq has confirmed fears that the US is out to impose a worldwide American hegemony which leaves room only for obedient allies – that is, privileged satellite states. It is no accident that Washington did not even make an effort to maintain pretenses in its drive to divide the EU and deplete its political power. The US has, no doubt, managed to cause a deep rupture. The Greek presidency was fully aware that by summoning Monday’s emergency summit, it effectively made EU members face their responsibilities over the European integration experiment. Contrary to London, which has already made a strategic decision, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon and Copenhagen were determined not to go too far. They hold their relationship with America in such esteem that they even played into Washington’s hands on Iraq – but there are limits. The political stake at this emergency summit was whether the EU states would manage to overcome the recent rift and US pressure and find the strength to bridge the gulf, hence proving that even at crisis points they are able to consult and find a common denominator. Their success in doing so highlights the reality that despite any disputes, EU countries are hard to unglue. It would be arrogant to say that the successful outcome of the summit was a result of the Greek presidency, but it would also be unfair to downgrade Greece’s decisive contribution. Athens must be credited with the initiative of calling the summit as well as with its cautious handling of some crucial negotiations. For this reason, Athens deserves a good word.