Restructuring Europe

In the history of nations, the term «Constitutional Convention» usually refers to the decapitation of a king under the acclamations of a rebelling crowd. The European Union institution which was triumphantly inaugurated in Brussels on Thursday has a less heroic and sadder story. For the first time, this impetus toward political integration does not come as the consequence of a disastrous war or revolution, but as the result of a mundane economic process which led to the launch of a single currency. As Valery Giscard d’Estaing, president of the Convention on the Future of Europe, said, Europe should not be limited indefinitely to the role of an odd historic hybrid which, while an economic giant, also remains a political dwarf. In a paradox, it is the United States of America itself which has forced Europe’s political emancipation. According to an accurate description after the September 11 attacks by a German analyst in the French daily, Liberation, the USA is treating Europe like domestic help: They make war – where, when and the way they want to – and the Europeans are then called upon to pick up the pieces. This policy has forced countries which have traditionally been pro-American, such as Britain, to chart a new course in Europe, as their old strategy, that of acting as a bridge between the USA and the EU, has become redundant. In his latest book, Henry Kissinger appears deeply concerned over the confrontational trend in EU-US relations. He advises the Europeans to limit their aspirations to a single market and to remain politically subordinate to the USA, warning that otherwise, some European states may opt to leave the EU rather than alienate themselves from the sole superpower. One may accuse the Machiavellian former US secretary of state of anything but lacking a global geostrategic perspective. This dilemma is already confronting the 15 EU member-states: Will they be limited to being «a dissonant, quarrelsome community which will primarily be concerned with tariffs – an accountants’ affair,» as Le Monde put it? Or will they dare proceed with the genuine restructuring of Europe, ceasing to be a sad political hostage? The answer is not an easy one. Nor can it be put off.

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