OPINION

A European paradox

The EU summit in Halkidiki was a success. But that is simply because every European Council meeting is condemned to succeed. So the question remains: Why is it that after so many successful gatherings, unemployment is still high, the international environment grows ever more insecure, the EU member states are still mired in economic crisis and this strong union of the most developed European states is still searching for its role in the international system? This does not mean that the European Union is a concept in vain. It is just that no one should foster any illusions about the ability of the EU’s elite to handle the situation, since instead of inventing a system which would be compatible with existing European traditions, it is trying to imitate the US model. At a more practical level, of all the issues discussed in Halkidiki, two are of major political importance, the new Constitution and the EU’s security strategy. The technical details of the Constitution are not that essential, as the main question is what will emerge after its implementation. However, the text referring to Europe’s cultural background is indicative of what is going on. If there is one characteristic common to all European states, it is that after the fall of the Roman Empire, political thought, social organization and moral values have developed in relation or in opposition to Christianity. However, the Constitution drafted by the president of the European Convention, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, does not refer to Christianity as part of Europe’s legacy. This is more than a victory of leftist ideas. It is also the victory of the view that the EU must evolve into a multicultural entity stripped of its origins. Aside from the draft Constitution, the Halkidiki summit also approved a draft report on security and defense proposed by EU foreign policy and security chief Javier Solana. The document aims to appease Washington after the political disobedience of some states during the US-led campaign against Iraq. Fourteen years after the collapse of the Communist system, when Europe has shaken off the nightmare of Soviet menace, the average European cringes to hear Solana’s report describing the looming threat of international terrorist organizations and weapons of mass destruction that have for decades been hosted by various regimes, including some pro-Western ones. Solana’s report, which was approved by the European Council, sets the foundations for pre-emptive action against such threats and for the democratization of states that lie near European states and in the broader zone of their interests. In that way, it is reminiscent of the dogma of late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. But if these are Europe’s priorities in the common security area, it’s hard to see what prompted the protests against America’s pre-emptive strike against Iraq – especially in light of the tragedy of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Generally speaking, and leaving aside all the typical courteousness, the Halkidiki summit essentially set the EU on a course of convergence with the USA. The Greek presidency worked hard in this direction and succeeded in adopting a draft report on European security because – despite any claims to the contrary – this is the goal of the European governments, including those who created the impression of a Euro-Atlantic rift. Now it’s over to the USA, where the EU presidency will visit next Wednesday.