Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Fantastic essay by Timothy Garton Ash in the New Statesman this week, which I've already seen linked in a couple of places. Keep reading to the end -- it pays off with a punchline.

I really don't think most euro-skeptics are really grasping just how European expansion will transform the character of the European Union over the long term. In the current issue of The New Republic (not available online unless you're a subscriber) there's a polemic by Andrew Sullivan, for instance, on "the threat [to America] of European integration."

[W]ith the unveiling of a new federalist constitution for a "United States of Europe" in June, the anti-American trend will be subtly but profoundly institutionalized. It's past time that Americans wake up and see this new threat for what it is.
Germany ...has largely acquiesced in France's ambitions to create a European rival to U.S. power. Germany's final capitulation came with the abolition of the Deutschmark. The new euro helps fulfill French ambition by becoming a fledgling counterweight to the dollar in international markets, helping erode the critical U.S. economic advantage of having the uncontested global currency....

The USE [United States of Europe] is the obvious next step for this essentially French project.
Jesus. Let me guess. It was Valery Giscard d'Estaign on the grassy knoll.

Sullivan has not done his homework. First of all, the constitution is not a "French project" -- in fact the first European politician to make an overt call for a "federal" Europe was Vaclav Havel, and the second was Joschka Fischer. Structurally, a federal Europe would look a lot more like Federal Germany than the Fifth Republic. In terms of voting power, the chief beneficiary of the new constitution is not France at all, which is in fact a net loser of voting rights. It's Germany, as Thomas Fuller writes in the IHT. And then Poland.... As fellow hack Jonathan Ledgard once said to me, Poles are so pro-American that McDonald's hamburger juice comes out when you poke them. I'd be willing to bet that 20 years from now, talk about the Franco-German axis will be a thing of the past. The center of Europe is clearly moving east, both geographically and culturally, and while hardly "pro-American," I think most of these cultures of the east are deeply different than their western counterparts -- for one thing, they're much more open to the Americanization that Garton Ash writes about, instead of acting like Canute trying to stop the tide. The constitution combined with expansion (and they really are one project) will have the overall effect of further aligning the EU with the US, not distancing it.


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