To the Editor:

Jeffrey L. Cimbalo finds European integration in its most recent form to be "the greatest challenge to continuing U.S. influence in Europe since World War II" ("Saving NATO From Europe," November/December 2004). Whatever the merit of his conclusions, they could have at least been based on the correct text of the EU constitution, and on an awareness of the developments that took place in Europe between the summer of 2003 and the early spring of 2004.

There have been three drafts of the constitution. The original Draft Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe was published on July 18, 2003. The European Council approved the second text, the Provisional Consolidated Version of the Draft Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, on June 25, 2004. It contained some significant changes from the original draft. The third text, the Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, was published on August 6, 2004. It contained further minor amendments and a change in the numbering of the constitution's articles.

The document to which Cimbalo referred appears to have been the original draft -- which included neither the correct numbering of the articles, nor the important changes that were subsequently made.

One example, among several, serves to illustrate this point. Cimbalo refers to "Article 40 of the constitution" and analyzes text that discusses member states of the EU cooperating with NATO "until such time" as a European common defense materializes. Cimbalo interprets this article (which in the final draft is actually article 41) to mean "that NATO is ultimately superfluous to EU security policy." Hence, his insistence that the United States should "condemn" the text and act to ensure its demise.

What Cimbalo missed was that later discussions within the EU led to the complete removal of the sections of the article to which he objected, in favor of a robust commitment to NATO. The wording is now as follows:

The policy of the Union in accordance with this Article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States, it shall respect the obligations of certain Member States, which see their common defence realised in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, under the North Atlantic Treaty, and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework.

The reality is that the main EU partners, having agreed on both the substance and the significance of the new constitutional innovations (structured cooperation, the Armaments Agency, the mutual assistance and the solidarity clauses, the Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, and much more) reached agreement for Europe's embryonic military to move forward in a way that would give it maximum efficiency while operating in complete harmony with NATO. This was true to such an extent that some of the less NATO-friendly commentators inside the EU even detected in the final constitutional text a form of "capitulation" to NATO not to their taste.

The European Security and Defense Policy is normally depicted in the United States as either an enhancement of NATO (its initial official justification), a threat to NATO (along the lines of Cimbalo's analysis), or irrelevant (too little, too late, and of the wrong sort). It cannot be all three. Those who address themselves to the actual constitutional text will, I am sure, conclude that the first possibility is the only valid one.

Jolyon Howorth

Jean Monet Professor of European Politics, University of Bath, and Visiting Professor of Political Science, Yale University