OPINION

Opinion

. ..To be in the heart of Europe so as to reinforce Europe’s position and role as a special US partner but also be on America’s side so as to strengthen the European role – the outcome of Britain’s double wager will not just depend on London’s room for maneuver. It basically presupposes a smooth transformation of cross-Atlantic relations, the establishment of a Euro-Atlantic community comprising a United States which will accept the multipolar character of the international arena and give up its unilateral interventionism, and a Europe which will consolidate its cohesion and autonomy without clashing openly with the USA. This vision, which emerged as a realistic scenario in the last years of the Clinton administration, is now up in the air. As seen in developments following the terrorist blitz, the USA’s open diplomatic game across the world points to a balance of power which leaves no room for the preferential treatment of a revived Euro-Atlantic relationship. For London, the task of balancing its cross-Atlantic with its European relations seems to be an equation with many variables. On the American side, the most important variable is the evolution of Bush’s unilateral interventionism. On the European side, the most intimidating variable… for Britain is that common denominator of European interests which will be shaped by Paris and Berlin in view of the intergovernmental summit in 2004. Penalties will be hefty as parties can be deprived of their annual subsidy, while candidates who have breached the expenditure threshold may be stripped of their parliamentary office.