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After Copenhagen: abandoning the fiction

01 January 2003

Depending on the moment, it is not uncommon to note two coexistent views of Europe’s political future. The first foresees a disintegration of the Union as an international actor, while the other sees it becoming more resilient and dynamic. There is no shortage of arguments in support of the first view: the arithmetic of a Union of 25 members will reduce the chances of reaching consensus to an absolute minimum and transform the veto of a few into generalised impotence. There will be a boom in the obsession with sovereignty that was already so apparent at 15 with the arrival of new countries that are especially jealous of their  sovereignty as it was regained scarcely ten years ago. The momentum of the Franco-British St-Malo initiative, a pioneering move on European defence, has been lost in the throes of post-11 September. The new mix of strategic cultures will de facto tilt the balance in the direction of Atlanticism and a reluctance to allow the Union to assume its responsibilities. Indeed, for many the great advantage of NATO is that it allows the management of common risks to be delegated to America, in exchange for some comfortable abstention for individual countries. Lastly, the way in which the question of Iraq and the speeding up of Turkey’s candidature for EU membership have recently been handled has illustrated yet again just how overwhelming America’s influence is: it has been able, in just a few weeks, to ride roughshod over Europe’s priorities and impose its own highly national pace and agenda.


Other articles in this issue: Two enlargements and a devolution
by Antonio Missiroli The EU and Turkey: the way forward
by Dimitrios Triantaphyllou