Courtesy Reuters

Redefining Europe and the Atlantic Link

The postwar division of Europe is slowly eroding. This is partly a consequence of the thaw in relations between Washington and Moscow. But it would not be possible without the powerful influence of a resurgent and increasingly self-confident European Community. The West Europeans themselves have become the engineers and chief architects reshaping Europe, with economic forces driving the process. The growing unity and prosperity of the EC exert a magnetic force on Eastern Europe, setting in train a process by which the two halves of the continent are steadily reducing barriers to the movement of goods, ideas and people-and largely on terms that support Western values and interests.

The future shape of Europe will depend heavily on whether the Community can achieve sufficient cohesion and prosperity in the next decade to accomplish two tasks: first, to generate centrifugal forces in Eastern Europe strong enough to draw reform-minded nations there more closely into its economic and political orbit, but without threatening Moscow to the point that it intervenes to reverse the process; second, to create centripetal forces in Western Europe strong enough that the West Germans will see any future association between their country and East Germany as taking place in a Community context. If it can achieve these objectives, the EC, by virtue of its moral, political and social-as well as economic-strength, will be well positioned to form the centerpiece around which any future "common European home" will be built, and become the chief arbiter of its rules.

Inevitably, U.S.-European relations will be altered as the West Europeans seek to reduce their political dependence on Washington, as tensions with the Soviets ease and as progress is made in rolling back the division of the continent. For much of the postwar period the perception of a major Soviet threat served as the cementing force for NATO and as a basis to rally popular support in the West for large expenditures on sophisticated weaponry. That same threat also constituted a compelling

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