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Research Report

Advancing U.S. Interests with the European Union

Leslie S. Lebl
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2007
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 98
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. iii-iv)

    The remarkable evolution of the European Union after the Cold War raises crucial questions for the United States. What role will the EU play, and how will its actions affect U.S. interests? Some observers think the EU is becoming a superpower that will dominate the United States. Others say the EU has already reached its zenith; that economic and demographic trends will cause it to fall behind the United States, China and India in the coming decades.

    But whether the EU grows stronger or weaker, it already occupies a very important position in U.S. foreign policy. It is by far...

  2. (pp. 10-24)

    Since the end of the Cold War, the face of Europe has been transformed, and a good portion of this change has consisted in the evolution and expansion of the European Union. The EU today performs functions that would have been unimaginable 20 years ago. It has an emerging single market,¹ few internal borders, and a single currency adopted by most members. It has expanded to 25 (and soon more) members, in the process extending into previously remote regions such as Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

    In foreign policy, the EU increasingly acts as a unified force, deploying military forces...

  3. (pp. 25-36)

    When Americans think of Europe, they typically see it through the prism of NATO and the experience of an extraordinary alliance that has endured more than 50 years. Although much has changed since the end of the Cold War, many Americans still give primacy to security issues and consider NATO the anchor of the transatlantic relationship.

    European attitudes, however, differ. For most Europeans, NATO is part of the landscape, but not the focus. Governments may appreciate NATO’s role in guaranteeing Europe’s territorial security, but publics in general do not feel under any conventional military threat. A similar divide prevails with...

  4. (pp. 37-48)

    In the early 1990s, the EU set itself the goal of becoming a political as well as an economic union, with common foreign and security policies, or CFSP. Europeans typically say CFSP will give the EU a greater voice in global affairs. But how do they determine which policies to adopt? As British diplomat and senior EU official Robert Cooper notes, the United States is the only power with an independent strategy. “Every other country defines its strategy in relation to the United States.”41 What the EU usually means, when it talks of common foreign and security policies, is that...

  5. (pp. 49-56)

    When asked in 2004 to recommend priorities for U.S.-EU relations, the transatlantic business community put enhancing the security of trade and travelers without interrupting commercial flows at the top of the list. Europe is simultaneously the most important commercial partner of the United States and a potential avenue of entry for significant terrorist threats.

    Since September 11 both EU counter-terrorism authority and U.S.-EU counter-terrorism cooperation have expanded.66 As long as illegal immigrants, criminals and terrorists can exploit the lack of internal borders and a single internal EU market, the problems they cause will transcend the ability of individual member states...

  6. (pp. 57-68)

    The economy now forms the bedrock of the transatlantic relationship, especially with the end of the Cold War. The United States and EU together produce the equivalent of 60% of world GDP. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the transatlantic trade and investment relationship has surged, with flows now of roughly $3 trillion per year making it the largest bilateral one in the world. It is expected to keep on growing, providing ever more income and employment on both sides of the Atlantic.83

    When the EU and the United States agree on international economic issues, they set the global...

  7. (pp. 69-80)

    As the preceding discussion demonstrates, the United States interacts with the European Union across an extremely broad spectrum of issues, from revising the transatlantic security and defense architecture to focusing the U.S. business community on the global reach of EU standards. Virtually every federal department or agency already sees its work affected by what the European Union does; this influence is not likely to diminish in the future.

    Effective interaction requires a greater degree of interagency coordination than has been the case. It also requires more flexibility to navigate through the complex EU environment, where most issues are intertwined and...