European reality

The EU summit in Brussels, with its concessions on independent European defense and its difficulty in achieving agreement on a European constitution, showed once again what weaknesses emerge when a respectable but small club becomes a group of 25 states which, in search of common ground, concedes the right of action to the United States, even in a sphere of such immediate European interest as the Middle East. It would be dangerous if the EU were to become a pole of opposition to the US on an international level. On the other hand, the fact that the 25-state Union has become – thanks to Britain – an arena of debate among pro-NATO and Central European states, verges on the ridiculous. There is no doubt that the initiative of the «Four» – France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg – on independent European defense was unrealistic, not because of major threats faced by united Europe but because the French and Germans are unable to wean themselves from the Americans when it comes to defense. Hence it was to be expected that the Brussels summit would bring the initial rhetoric of the Four down to earth, locate the leadership of the European force at the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Forces of Europe at Mons in Belgium, and make the European army ancillary to NATO. Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis has repeatedly said «this is the way Europe goes forward,» but observations are no consolation and they do not boost the faith of the average European citizen in the effectiveness of EU political leaders’ decisions. Instead of producing a new model, the EU is incorporating into its structures American notions of politics, economy and society. This tendency is clear in the sphere of defense, global trade, ideas about production and institutions, as the pillars of the nation state on which Europe was built even before the French Revolution of 1789 are being undermined in every way, in the context of so-called reformist policy decisions that aim at neutralizing national peculiarities. This is not to say that Greece should estrange itself from present-day Europe, or be disappointed in the ungainliness of the 25-member EU. But it would be advisable to limit the rhetoric on the global role of the EU while the US tries at all costs to consolidate its international hegemony, simply because failure is certain.