18 November 2004

Europe's Future

When I wrote the first article here, my main subject was Europe and Islam, but to explain that I had to say more about Europe's attitude to America, and that's what has caught people's attention.

Something I seem not to have made clear is the diversity of views in Europe. The position I described -- that Europe must become a superpower to challenge American hegemony and halt the intrusion of an American-style market economy -- is by no means unchallenged.

As I wrote, it appears to be the dominant view in France and Germany. The Transatlantic Intelligencer blog is much better-informed than I am and seems to bear that out. Here in Britain, the same faction does exist, but it is relatively small. In the new EU members to the East, it seems not to exist. (I would imagine there would be a few who would be nostalgic for the Warsaw Pact, but they are not visible from here).

What I want to emphasise is the extent to which this is an active and debated issue. Tony Blair, obviously, is not opposed to the US exercising its power. He does not carry his whole party with him by any means, but his likely successor, Finance Minister Gordon Brown is not likely to change course drastically. Looking at today's paper, the lead article starts "Leading pro-European businessmen and politicians have berated Gordon Brown over his long-running scepticism about the EU economy."

Opposition leader Michael Howard was also quoted in the FT today, saying"One of my worries is that for some people, the main motive for greater political union in Europe is to establish a rival to the US. I don't want rivalry, I want partnership."

Last month, the Dutch Minister of the Economy, Jan Brinkhorst, gave this speech (pdf) as the Rousseau Lecture. this article gives a brief summary:
'I will argue that the updated European social model should differ distinctly from the current one' explained Mr Brinkhorst. 'It will inevitably resemble the US model more than is the case today.
So, the Europe's future is, as the film said, not set. The EU project is seen in some circles as the way to overthrow American hegemony, but other members are in it for diffent outcomes. France and Germany have traditionally dominated, but their influence, in Europe and in the world, is diminishing.

We live in interesting times.

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