It must be a new era when the secretary-general of NATO goes out of his way to praise a European Union summit -- and when the EU's rhetoric is tougher than NATO's on Russian brutality in Chechnya. Welcome to 21st-century Europe, in which NATO and the EU routinely meddle in each other's affairs, see themselves more and more as collaborators (and rivals) in joint business, and even fraternize in a manner utterly taboo during the Cold War. It is a Europe in which Lord Robertson, NATO's secretary-general, ostentatiously commended the EU's pledge at its Helsinki summit last December to build better European rapid-reaction forces to supplement America's troops in the region and where, for a few days at least, EU leaders talked about imposing sanctions on Russia for its conduct in Chechnya with a severity unmatched by either the United States or NATO.

Increasingly, the chaotic overlapping institutions of post-Cold War Europe are morphing together, led by the premier Western clubs, NATO and the EU. Amid the ongoing consolidation, some organizations -- for instance, the obsolete Western European Union -- are vanishing altogether. Some, like the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are spinning away from the center to focus on heartland Europe's relations with the east Slavs and others who have chosen not to follow the voluntary rules of the European club. And Europe's strongest institutions are finally beginning to define their own niches and refine their mutual interactions.

In short, the continent's long-prophesied post-Cold War "security architecture" is at last appearing -- and it is not quite the brick-and-mortar of fixed institutions that analysts envisaged when the Berlin Wall fell a decade ago. It is, rather, a form of what computer aficionados would call systems management -- inducing coexisting processes to at best reinforce each other or at least not disable each other.

That the form of 21st-century European governance is so unexpected should itself have been expected. Heartland Europe is postnational in a way neither America nor Russia nor Japan (nor, for that matter, the Balkans nor the Caucasus) is. Its method of governance is therefore sui generis. Earlier than other, larger countries, the tiny nations of Europe -- Germany, the most populous, is physically no larger than Montana -- have been forced to realize that they can no longer cope individually with global drug runners, Chernobyl fallout, and instant electronic transfers of billions of dollars. They must band together, and they have by now ascertained that their decades-long cooperation to resist Soviet coercion was no Cold War aberration. However tempted Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand were to revert to nineteenth-century balance-of-power games against Germany after the Berlin Wall fell, more sensible habits of cooperation have now become ingrained.

Thus the European Community (EC) promoted reconciliation between the archenemies France and Germany; gradually conferred legitimacy on post-Nazi West Germany; helped France modernize and surpass reunited Germany in per capita output; eased Spain's and Portugal's graduations from autocracy to democracy; turned Ireland into a high-tech center, made it a destination for immigrants for the first time since before the potato famine, and gave it enough self-confidence to facilitate an eventual peace settlement with Northern Ireland; gave Italy an incentive to discipline its finances and qualify for European economic and monetary union; and gave all citizens of its member countries unimagined prosperity and the longest period of peace in Europe's history. Even after the unifying Soviet threat vanished, the EC proved far too valuable to give up. It was retained and even reinforced to create a genuine single market, proclaim the grand goal of a real European Union, open its doors to the new democracies of central Europe, and most astonishingly, meld Europe's many venerable currencies into the freshly minted euro.

ROLLING, ROLLING, ROLLING

All this was achieved by a rolling form of consensus-building, which avoided lowest-common-denominator compromise by repeatedly making the top performances in various fields the "benchmark" standard for all. Essentially, the EU adapted the domestic-consensus political system of Germanic Europe and the Low Countries both to hold disparate nations together and to break out of the EC stasis of the 1970s and early 1980s. In the post-Cold War era, the EU has repeatedly expanded this practice, treating crisis as opportunity, uncertainty as fluidity, and anxiety about the future in general and German demons in particular as a useful source of energy. The result has been an extraordinary relinquishing of individual sovereignty for the common good in what European governments now perceive not as a surrender but as a positive "pooling" of national sovereignty.

Moreover, this transformation has been helped by developing a culture of peer pressure that defies all conventional institutional or realist analyses. The EU, although already far more than a confederation, will clearly never become a European federation. It has no hierarchy. The European Commission led by Romano Prodi is part manager, part secretariat, part legislature, and part defender of small members' interests against those of the four biggest members. But its staff is tiny (barely matching the number of administrators in Cologne), and it is not an executive. The EU's highest authority remains the European Council, which convenes peripatetic bimonthly summits of semisovereign heads of governments or state who engage in permanent ongoing negotiations.

Nor, after Thatcher banged her handbag on the table in the mid-1980s, will the EU ever have the power of the purse for the mass redistributive transfers that individual European nations make for social welfare and the United States uses for regional assistance programs. The EU budget is limited to no more than 1.27 percent of its members' combined GDP -- and half of that is locked into farm-surplus entitlements.

Despite the absence of persuasive carrots or sticks, though, the conclave of equals in the European Council and the councils of foreign, finance, agriculture, and other ministers have mustered the political will to leap forward. Votes are virtually never taken, nor are vetoes exercised (except implicitly, usually by the French or the British). Yet issues are somehow talked to death until the holdouts yield to the informal 80 or 90 percent majority. If anything, this consensus-building process is even more pronounced in the obscure but powerful Committee of Permanent Representatives in Brussels, which solves the vast bulk of intra-European issues at a senior bureaucratic level without recourse to the political echelon. And this custom will probably be blessed formally in this year's Intergovernmental Conference with new rules for "qualified majority voting," which will accelerate EU decision-making.

Until 1999, it looked as if military matters would remain exempt from the EU's spreading supranational approach. To be sure, after some French and Spanish resistance, the EU accepted Germany's priority on trying to replicate western European economic and political successes in central Europe by offering these new democracies EU tutelage and, eventually, membership. This common policy has already had a huge impact on the behavior of the candidates. It may be only soft power, but the lure of possible association with the rich and peaceful EU (and NATO) is highly appealing to nations striving to meet the two clubs' democratic and market-related preconditions for membership. The chain reaction of Polish-Ukrainian, Ukrainian-Romanian, Romanian-Hungarian, and Bulgarian-Macedonian reconciliation is the best testimony to the positive

IMPACT OF BOTH THE EU AND NATO ON THEIR EASTERN NEIGHBORS.

Such a coordinated central European policy was already an innovation when the EU set out its road map for admitting new members in 1993. But the EU's grander ambitions about forging a "common foreign and security policy" and a "European security and defence identity" still seemed a pie in the sky. European commonality in the ultimate commitment of blood lagged well behind the pooling of sovereignty in trade, markets, law, and the environment. Clashes between the intervention-prone British and French and the more pacifist Germans and others -- as well as the habit of entrusting security decisions to a U.S.-dominated NATO -- precluded any meeting of EU minds.

Last year, however, the Kosovo crisis greatly qualified this exception. In only nine months, the EU made a series of firsts. It endorsed a hot war by NATO forces, with the full support of all EU neutrals; came to regard the Balkans not as the barbarian East but as a part of Europe that must be raised to European standards of human rights; was shocked by its own impotence relative to America's electronic-weapons wizardry; held together for 78 days in the face of bitter popular opposition in Greece to the NATO war next door; agreed to fold the Western European Union (weu) into the EU; appointed the high-profile politician Javier Solana rather than a faceless clerk to be Europe's inaugural "Mr. Foreign Policy" and double-hatted him as interim weu secretary-general, with the ex officio right to sit in on North Atlantic Council meetings; set the goal of creating up to 60,000 European rapid-reaction troops that could be mobilized within two months for a two-year deployment; held a joint meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers; and put Turkey on the candidate list for future EU membership.

BORDERLINE SCHIZOPHRENIA

Inevitably, such unwonted European activism in a realm that previously belonged exclusively to NATO has triggered a schizophrenic reaction in the United States and has led to skirmishes with NATO. Washington approves of the European desire to assume more of the common Western military burden but does not want this to prejudice unilateral American action. For their part, the Europeans have differing goals: the French would like to cut the hegemonic "hyperpower" down to size, whereas the British and the Germans want exactly the opposite -- relieving the United States of enough of its security burden in Europe to prevent an isolationist Congress from someday yanking U.S. troops home in disgust. But for all their internal differences, the Europeans all insist that contributing more treasure and, potentially, blood to the transatlantic partnership must also mean that Europe gains more say in NATO decisions.

To those fluent in the arts of the Westphalian nation-state and used to America's way of making policy by confrontation rather than consensus, such a European claim seems suspicious. Henry Kissinger, for one, views the development with profound mistrust and asks whether Europe is really turning anti-American and trying to weaken U.S. leadership. The Clinton administration, although more relaxed about a nascent European "defense identity" than its Republican predecessors, praises European efforts in official public statements but then briefs journalists about the risks of Europe's going it alone.

Of course, NATO too has changed in the last ten years. It has shifted not only from large-unit territorial defense to regional crisis management but also from overtly military tasks to more political ones that impinge on EU turf. And for all the new NATO-EU cooperation in the former Yugoslavia, the simultaneous probes by the two organizations for new roles in the present fluid situation sometimes aggravate rather than alleviate transatlantic strains. This is evident in the question of who should handle which future brushfires, American complaints about the EU's slowness to admit new central European members, and the jostling about who sets the agenda in Europe.

Thus such U.S. commentators as former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and the editorialists of The Washington Post -- disregarding poor postcommunist economies' need for complex and time-consuming restructuring to prepare them for EU competition -- feel aggrieved at the slowness with which the EU is taking in new members. NATO has moved faster and has had to assume too much of the responsibility for attaching the central Europeans to the West, they argue. The EU is dragging its feet. Meanwhile, they add, NATO has taken the necessary lead in improvising the Partnership for Peace to exert a calming influence and signal the West's interest in security in Ukraine and other states beyond the immediate circle of central European candidates.

But Europeans, many Germans and French retort, are providing the lion's share of assistance and investment for the region. Now that Belgrade has been diverted from old-fashioned Serbian imperialism, the real security threats on the continent today are economic and social rather than military. The normative impact of the EU system is already stabilizing and transforming central Europe. And heartland Europe's more existential stake in what kind of identity its neighbors adopt means that the EU should lead on such issues as using gunboats to enforce an oil embargo against Montenegro's Adriatic port during the war in Kosovo or supplying opposition governments in Yugoslav cities with heating fuel in winter.

To establish a framework for resolving future disputes, the allies have invented some imaginative terminology. Guidelines have been written for "Combined Joint Task Forces" -- European-only troops that could mount operations with the help of "separable but not separate" NATO airlift, intelligence, and other assets "when NATO is not engaged." And European rapid-reaction forces are to avoid the "three Ds" of "duplication," transatlantic "decoupling," and "discrimination" against continental countries like Turkey that are members of NATO but not (yet) of the EU.

Such formulas do not guarantee reconciliation of the different movements of Europe's premier institutions, of course. But they do presume a common transatlantic enterprise in which NATO and the EU jointly constitute the indispensable governing apparatus of 21st-century Europe and in which elite opinion on both sides of the Atlantic is taken into consideration. The natural corollary is that the emerging architecture linking the two institutions can and must be deliberately shaped to maximize that transatlantic interaction and render NATO and the EU not only compatible but synergetic.

Elizabeth Pond is Editor of the Berlin-based Transatlantic Internationale Politik and author of The Rebirth of Europe.

It must be a new era when the secretary-general of NATO goes out of his way to praise a European Union summit -- and when the EU's rhetoric is tougher than NATO's on Russian brutality in Chechnya. Welcome to 21st-century Europe, in which NATO and the EU routinely meddle in each other's affairs, see themselves more and more as collaborators (and rivals) in joint business, and even fraternize in a manner utterly taboo during the Cold War. It is a Europe in which Lord Robertson, NATO's secretary-general, ostentatiously commended the EU's pledge at its Helsinki summit last December to build better European rapid-reaction forces to supplement America's troops in the region and where, for a few days at least, EU leaders talked about imposing sanctions on Russia for its conduct in Chechnya with a severity unmatched by either the United States or NATO.

Increasingly, the chaotic overlapping institutions of post-Cold War Europe are morphing together, led by the premier Western clubs, NATO and the EU. Amid the ongoing consolidation, some organizations -- for instance, the obsolete Western European Union -- are vanishing altogether. Some, like the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are spinning away from the center to focus on heartland Europe's relations with the east Slavs and others who have chosen not to follow the voluntary rules of the European club. And Europe's strongest institutions are finally beginning to define their own niches and refine their mutual interactions.

In short, the continent's long-prophesied post-Cold War "security architecture" is at last appearing -- and it is not quite the brick-and-mortar of fixed institutions that analysts envisaged when the Berlin Wall fell a decade ago. It is, rather, a form of what computer aficionados would call systems management -- inducing coexisting processes to at best reinforce each other or at least not disable each other.

That the form of 21st-century European governance is so unexpected should itself have been expected. Heartland Europe is postnational in a way neither America nor Russia nor Japan (nor, for that matter, the Balkans nor the Caucasus) is. Its method of governance is therefore sui generis. Earlier than other, larger countries, the tiny nations of Europe -- Germany, the most populous, is physically no larger than Montana -- have been forced to realize that they can no longer cope individually with global drug runners, Chernobyl fallout, and instant electronic transfers of billions of dollars. They must band together, and they have by now ascertained that their decades-long cooperation to resist Soviet coercion was no Cold War aberration. However tempted Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand were to revert to nineteenth-century balance-of-power games against Germany after the Berlin Wall fell, more sensible habits of cooperation have now become ingrained.

Thus the European Community (EC) promoted reconciliation between the archenemies France and Germany; gradually conferred legitimacy on post-Nazi West Germany; helped France modernize and surpass reunited Germany in per capita output; eased Spain's and Portugal's graduations from autocracy to democracy; turned Ireland into a high-tech center, made it a destination for immigrants for the first time since before the potato famine, and gave it enough self-confidence to facilitate an eventual peace settlement with Northern Ireland; gave Italy an incentive to discipline its finances and qualify for European economic and monetary union; and gave all citizens of its member countries unimagined prosperity and the longest period of peace in Europe's history. Even after the unifying Soviet threat vanished, the EC proved far too valuable to give up. It was retained and even reinforced to create a genuine single market, proclaim the grand goal of a real European Union, open its doors to the new democracies of central Europe, and most astonishingly, meld Europe's many venerable currencies into the freshly minted euro.

ROLLING, ROLLING, ROLLING

All this was achieved by a rolling form of consensus-building, which avoided lowest-common-denominator compromise by repeatedly making the top performances in various fields the "benchmark" standard for all. Essentially, the EU adapted the domestic-consensus political system of Germanic Europe and the Low Countries both to hold disparate nations together and to break out of the EC stasis of the 1970s and early 1980s. In the post-Cold War era, the EU has repeatedly expanded this practice, treating crisis as opportunity, uncertainty as fluidity, and anxiety about the future in general and German demons in particular as a useful source of energy. The result has been an extraordinary relinquishing of individual sovereignty for the common good in what European governments now perceive not as a surrender but as a positive "pooling" of national sovereignty.

Moreover, this transformation has been helped by developing a culture of peer pressure that defies all conventional institutional or realist analyses. The EU, although already far more than a confederation, will clearly never become a European federation. It has no hierarchy. The European Commission led by Romano Prodi is part manager, part secretariat, part legislature, and part defender of small members' interests against those of the four biggest members. But its staff is tiny (barely matching the number of administrators in Cologne), and it is not an executive. The EU's highest authority remains the European Council, which convenes peripatetic bimonthly summits of semisovereign heads of governments or state who engage in permanent ongoing negotiations.

Nor, after Thatcher banged her handbag on the table in the mid-1980s, will the EU ever have the power of the purse for the mass redistributive transfers that individual European nations make for social welfare and the United States uses for regional assistance programs. The EU budget is limited to no more than 1.27 percent of its members' combined GDP -- and half of that is locked into farm-surplus entitlements.

Despite the absence of persuasive carrots or sticks, though, the conclave of equals in the European Council and the councils of foreign, finance, agriculture, and other ministers have mustered the political will to leap forward. Votes are virtually never taken, nor are vetoes exercised (except implicitly, usually by the French or the British). Yet issues are somehow talked to death until the holdouts yield to the informal 80 or 90 percent majority. If anything, this consensus-building process is even more pronounced in the obscure but powerful Committee of Permanent Representatives in Brussels, which solves the vast bulk of intra-European issues at a senior bureaucratic level without recourse to the political echelon. And this custom will probably be blessed formally in this year's Intergovernmental Conference with new rules for "qualified majority voting," which will accelerate EU decision-making.

Until 1999, it looked as if military matters would remain exempt from the EU's spreading supranational approach. To be sure, after some French and Spanish resistance, the EU accepted Germany's priority on trying to replicate western European economic and political successes in central Europe by offering these new democracies EU tutelage and, eventually, membership. This common policy has already had a huge impact on the behavior of the candidates. It may be only soft power, but the lure of possible association with the rich and peaceful EU (and NATO) is highly appealing to nations striving to meet the two clubs' democratic and market-related preconditions for membership. The chain reaction of Polish-Ukrainian, Ukrainian-Romanian, Romanian-Hungarian, and Bulgarian-Macedonian reconciliation is the best testimony to the positive

IMPACT OF BOTH THE EU AND NATO ON THEIR EASTERN NEIGHBORS.

Such a coordinated central European policy was already an innovation when the EU set out its road map for admitting new members in 1993. But the EU's grander ambitions about forging a "common foreign and security policy" and a "European security and defence identity" still seemed a pie in the sky. European commonality in the ultimate commitment of blood lagged well behind the pooling of sovereignty in trade, markets, law, and the environment. Clashes between the intervention-prone British and French and the more pacifist Germans and others -- as well as the habit of entrusting security decisions to a U.S.-dominated NATO -- precluded any meeting of EU minds.

Last year, however, the Kosovo crisis greatly qualified this exception. In only nine months, the EU made a series of firsts. It endorsed a hot war by NATO forces, with the full support of all EU neutrals; came to regard the Balkans not as the barbarian East but as a part of Europe that must be raised to European standards of human rights; was shocked by its own impotence relative to America's electronic-weapons wizardry; held together for 78 days in the face of bitter popular opposition in Greece to the NATO war next door; agreed to fold the Western European Union (weu) into the EU; appointed the high-profile politician Javier Solana rather than a faceless clerk to be Europe's inaugural "Mr. Foreign Policy" and double-hatted him as interim weu secretary-general, with the ex officio right to sit in on North Atlantic Council meetings; set the goal of creating up to 60,000 European rapid-reaction troops that could be mobilized within two months for a two-year deployment; held a joint meeting of EU foreign and defense ministers; and put Turkey on the candidate list for future EU membership.

BORDERLINE SCHIZOPHRENIA

Inevitably, such unwonted European activism in a realm that previously belonged exclusively to NATO has triggered a schizophrenic reaction in the United States and has led to skirmishes with NATO. Washington approves of the European desire to assume more of the common Western military burden but does not want this to prejudice unilateral American action. For their part, the Europeans have differing goals: the French would like to cut the hegemonic "hyperpower" down to size, whereas the British and the Germans want exactly the opposite -- relieving the United States of enough of its security burden in Europe to prevent an isolationist Congress from someday yanking U.S. troops home in disgust. But for all their internal differences, the Europeans all insist that contributing more treasure and, potentially, blood to the transatlantic partnership must also mean that Europe gains more say in NATO decisions.

To those fluent in the arts of the Westphalian nation-state and used to America's way of making policy by confrontation rather than consensus, such a European claim seems suspicious. Henry Kissinger, for one, views the development with profound mistrust and asks whether Europe is really turning anti-American and trying to weaken U.S. leadership. The Clinton administration, although more relaxed about a nascent European "defense identity" than its Republican predecessors, praises European efforts in official public statements but then briefs journalists about the risks of Europe's going it alone.

Of course, NATO too has changed in the last ten years. It has shifted not only from large-unit territorial defense to regional crisis management but also from overtly military tasks to more political ones that impinge on EU turf. And for all the new NATO-EU cooperation in the former Yugoslavia, the simultaneous probes by the two organizations for new roles in the present fluid situation sometimes aggravate rather than alleviate transatlantic strains. This is evident in the question of who should handle which future brushfires, American complaints about the EU's slowness to admit new central European members, and the jostling about who sets the agenda in Europe.

Thus such U.S. commentators as former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and the editorialists of The Washington Post -- disregarding poor postcommunist economies' need for complex and time-consuming restructuring to prepare them for EU competition -- feel aggrieved at the slowness with which the EU is taking in new members. NATO has moved faster and has had to assume too much of the responsibility for attaching the central Europeans to the West, they argue. The EU is dragging its feet. Meanwhile, they add, NATO has taken the necessary lead in improvising the Partnership for Peace to exert a calming influence and signal the West's interest in security in Ukraine and other states beyond the immediate circle of central European candidates.

But Europeans, many Germans and French retort, are providing the lion's share of assistance and investment for the region. Now that Belgrade has been diverted from old-fashioned Serbian imperialism, the real security threats on the continent today are economic and social rather than military. The normative impact of the EU system is already stabilizing and transforming central Europe. And heartland Europe's more existential stake in what kind of identity its neighbors adopt means that the EU should lead on such issues as using gunboats to enforce an oil embargo against Montenegro's Adriatic port during the war in Kosovo or supplying opposition governments in Yugoslav cities with heating fuel in winter.

To establish a framework for resolving future disputes, the allies have invented some imaginative terminology. Guidelines have been written for "Combined Joint Task Forces" -- European-only troops that could mount operations with the help of "separable but not separate" NATO airlift, intelligence, and other assets "when NATO is not engaged." And European rapid-reaction forces are to avoid the "three Ds" of "duplication," transatlantic "decoupling," and "discrimination" against continental countries like Turkey that are members of NATO but not (yet) of the EU.

Such formulas do not guarantee reconciliation of the different movements of Europe's premier institutions, of course. But they do presume a common transatlantic enterprise in which NATO and the EU jointly constitute the indispensable governing apparatus of 21st-century Europe and in which elite opinion on both sides of the Atlantic is taken into consideration. The natural corollary is that the emerging architecture linking the two institutions can and must be deliberately shaped to maximize that transatlantic interaction and render NATO and the EU not only compatible but synergetic.

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  • Elizabeth Pond is Editor of the Berlin-based Transatlantic Internationale Politik and author of The Rebirth of Europe.
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