Courtesy Reuters

Saving NATO from Europe


When the 263-page Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe was unveiled in June 2003, Washington said little, maintaining its decades-old stance of official neutrality regarding the progress of European integration. The significance of the proposed constitution, however, was not lost on Europeans. "This is crossing the Rubicon," Czech President Vaclav Klaus noted.

The proposed European federation is unprecedented: no democracy has ever merged with another to form such an entity. The constitution, which purports to integrate the 25 nations of the European Union, would create a new international actor with its own foreign minister and its own foreign policy. This development would have profound and troubling implications for the transatlantic alliance and for future U.S. influence in Europe. By structure and inclination, the new Europe would focus on aggrandizing EU power at the expense of NATO, the foundation of the transatlantic security relationship for more than half a century. In other words, it would seek to balance rather than complement U.S. power-an outcome for which the United States is wholly unprepared.

Washington's "hands off" policy on European integration was traditionally based on two assumptions: that, in the face of the Soviet threat, an integrated Europe would be a boon to NATO and Western democracy (it was) and that, as free nations, prospective EU member states are entitled to organize themselves any way they choose (they are). But the text and context of the proposed constitution should prompt U.S. policymakers to reconsider. The constitution's national security provisions signify that, for the first time, the NATO alliance faces a threat from within Europe itself. The political integration of the EU presents the greatest challenge to continuing U.S. influence in Europe since World War II, and U.S. policy must begin to adapt accordingly.


Not since the EU's founding in 1957 has the velocity of European integration been as high as it is today. European institutions are steadily and unambiguously expanding their power over the three pillars

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