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Research Report

Seeing blue:: American visions of the European Union

Esther Brimmer
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2007
Pages: 81
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 5-8)

    The United States has been a constant, if at times ambivalent, supporter of European integration from the earliest days of the European Coal and Steel Community to the current European Union. After two world wars drew the United States into military action to defend liberal democracy in Europe, American leaders understood that the security of Europe was in the American interest. The foundation of that security would be a transatlantic alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) providing a formal commitment that the US and its allies would defend each other if they were attacked. While the military alliance was...

  2. (pp. 9-12)

    The United States encounters the European Union as a global actor in several fields, including security and defence, managing global issues, and international economic relations. Security lies at the core of European integration. The fundamental US approach has been constant for decades. Americans have tended to support European integration when it made Europe more capable of providing for its own security while complementing the Alliance, thereby relieving the US burden.

    The pattern of US-EU relations was evident even in the early days of European integration. American leaders saw European economic and defence integration as part of the web of transatlantic...

  3. (pp. 13-16)

    Underlying current transatlantic discussions is a debate about diverging strategic perceptions. During the Cold War, the western countries shared a common concern in defending the West against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. This shared view about the source of the threat helped give coherence to transatlantic institutions. However, it did not necessarily ensure common approaches to relations with Moscow, Beijing or international communism. Over the years there were numerous disputes on issues ranging from the course of Soviet oil pipelines to Ostpolitik to the basing of intermediate nuclear missiles. The demise of a leading overarching enemy has left...

  4. (pp. 17-56)

    The emergence of the EU as a foreign policy actor is an important element in US perceptions of the EU. The European Union has a complex structure for managing international relations. The Commissioner for External Relations is, of course, a member of the Commission as is the Commissioner for Development who manages significant foreign policy resources. The portfolios of other Commissioners, such as environment, trade, and enlargement, also include international issues. In addition, the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) supports the goals of the European Council. CFSP is the European Council’s main diplomatic vehicle, with the...

  5. (pp. 57-64)

    The end of the Cold War posed at least two security questions for the EU: would it continue to play its historic role of reconciling former enemies and would it help manage the post-Cold War disorder in its region and beyond? For four decades the European institutions had spread stability through its dynamic, but structured, accession process. In this way, Greece, Portugal and Spain all deepened their democracies after discarding dictatorships. One of the EU’s historic decisions was to accept countries of Central and Eastern Europe as candidates, thereby giving them an incentive and roadmap for democratisation and closer ties...

  6. (pp. 65-74)

    When the Bush Administration came to power in January 2001, it encountered a very different European Union from the one many of its leadership knew when they had left power in early 1993. Not only had the Treaty on European Union changed the name of the entity, the EU had resumed its search for a strategic role which had been subsumed under other policies since the failure of the EDC more than four decades before. Senior political leaders often see the EU through an economic lens, as demonstrated by the fact that US ambassadors to the EU tend to be...

  7. (pp. 75-76)

    Whoever is elected president in 2008, the United States is likely to maintain its supportive, yet ambivalent, approach to the European Union. Despite various tensions, the transatlantic link remains a fundamental tenet of international affairs for the US and for European countries. US-EU relations and NATO affairs remain pillars of this relationship (along with the G-8, OSCE and other institutions). Examining US perceptions of the EU helps explain the health of the US-EU dimension.

    The transatlantic investment climate remains good, while security issues are less inflammatory, but still sensitive. Perennial problems persist, with EU-NATO relations being the most important area...