Sunday, March 22, 2009

US support for deeper EU integration


In an interview with The Irish Times (03/20), Hillary Clinton expressed her support for deeper EU political integration and a more effective EU foreign policy as envisaged in the Lisbon Treaty.

While it is not my intention to question the genuine character of secretary of state’s support, it is important to recall that the Bush administration constantly sought to prevent the emergence of EU common answers to the most sensitive issues of the day (Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, climate change, etc.). Some skeptics argue that the US only supports an enhanced foreign policy role for the EU because it needs to be assisted by a more effective vassal. 

Regardless of the US’s ambivalent attitude towards European integration, Hillary Clinton is right to view the Lisbon Treaty as a significant step towards a more effective EU foreign policy. On the future impact of the Lisbon Treaty (assuming that it will be ratified), see a recent report published by The Federal Trust, a British think tank.

While I fully agree with the report’s two main points: (i) the EU needs a strong foreign policy machinery if it wants to meet current global challenges; (ii) the Lisbon Treaty holds considerable potential in this regard, it is important to stress that key decisions will continue under the Lisbon Treaty to be taken by the Member States by unanimous vote. In other words, foreign and security policy is one area where essential authority will continue to remain with EU national governments. Accordingly, one should not expect the emergence of the EU as a “global power” in lieu and place of its Member States.


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