On the back burner

Although the draft Constitution was ratified at the last European summit, reluctance among many EU governments is putting the brakes on the integration process. Symptoms abound. In a recent interview, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso appeared to put the question of integration on the back burner. After the latest wave of enlargement, many within the EU camp claim – mostly behind closed doors – that the Constitution does more to promote unification than it ought to. The recent expansion has clearly changed the balance of power, strengthening the Atlanticists’ hand. To be sure, Washington has never been too keen on European integration, seeing it as antagonistic to US hegemony. For their part, the British have never kept secret their desire to reduce the EU to the level of intergovernmental cooperation or, better, to a zone of free exchange. Under those circumstances, endorsing the Constitution will be crucial, for it will mark the determination of member states for an even closer union. The main obstacles are not caused by any disagreements on the various national particularities but by disagreement on the goal per se. However, Europe’s unification must proceed; otherwise it will be held ransom to myopic national self-interests that will weaken it.

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