You are here

Three pillars for CFSP

01 October 2003
Download document

Three paradoxes characterise the Union’s attitude to the rest of the world. The first is typical of post-Cold War realities: with very few exceptions,  it is now much easier for the Europeans to agree a view on external crises than on American policy. Terrorism provides a classic example of this. After 11 September the Fifteen had to adapt simultaneously and as rapidly as possible to the new terrorist threat and the new America that was recovering from the shock of the attacks. The threat of terrorism produced a leap forward in European integration in a number of fields, including the introduction of a common arrest warrant, financial and police cooperation, the Commission’s early warning system, and extending to consensus within the European Convention on inclusion in the future treaty of a clause on mutual assistance in the event of terrorist attack against any member state. Conversely, once the initial reflex of solidarity with the victims of the 11 September attacks had passed, the requirement to adapt to the new US strategic priorities – the axis of evil, pre-emption and US exceptionalism – greatly perturbed, and in the end divided, the Europeans, culminating in the Iraq crisis and the division of Europeans into two camps quickly labelled ‘war’ or ‘peace’.
     The second paradox is more traditional: while the Europeans find it fairly easy to agree on a more or less common view of the world, they are divided on the Union’s role in managing the world’s crises. Since that role is broadly a function of the type of relationship that each member country wants to build with America, bilateral or within NATO, the Europeans have never managed to agree on the actual purpose of their diplomatic and military cooperation. The recurring debates on the virtues or vices of multipolarity.