Courtesy Reuters

The European Coalition in a Fragmenting World

European integration has grown unfashionable. Those whose interests follow the foundations have long since migrated to "transnationalism," "trilateralism," "globalism" or "problems of advanced societies"; those more attuned to governmental circles reflect the current official displeasure at an "inward-looking" European bloc. Indeed, Europe's collective endeavor seems to provoke American analysts to irritability and even contempt. For those enamored of various versions of Pax Americana, the development of a powerful European bloc is now seen to threaten U.S. hegemony and global order. But even many who presumably desire a strong Europe, and a more plural world order, seem bitterly disappointed with Europe's progress. Europe, it appears, has not measured up to American expectations; it appears to lack will, vision and legitimacy. Its Community has become a supermarket rather than a superpower.

This common view may, however, prove wrong. For in today's extremely fluid international situation, further disoriented by the energy crisis, Europe's coalition shows signs of a new vitality. Europe's states, confronted by a dislocated world system, have significantly heightened their mutual cooperation, as well as made a major effort to extend their influence in the Mediterranean and Middle East. The importance of these efforts has, I believe, been insufficiently recognized, in great part because of widespread misconceptions about the nature of the coalition which the European states have been building.


Throughout Europe's postwar history, most American analysts have never understood the character of European integration. Consequently, both American hopes and disappointments have been inappropriate. Most have been derived from Monnet's vision of European union as a supranational, technocratic way station toward an Atlantic Community. Whatever its virtues, Monnet's vision has never been the relevant model for European integration. The Europe of the Six or of the Nine has never been a nascent federal state-fated to be governed by trans-European political parties or cosmopolitan technocrats. Instead, the European Community has always been a confederal bloc. States have joined it not to give up their sovereignty, but to protect it. This point,

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