In essence the report concludes that Europeans remain stuck in a ‘spectator’ mindset, harbouring damaging “illusions” acquired over “decades of American hegemony.” The result, the authors conclude, is “an unhealthy mix of complacency and excessive deference” to the United States, which has a “rapidly decreasing interest” in a Europe as it fails to speak with a strong united voice in the world.
The report is not just a rebuke of the nationalists and isolationists spread across Europe, it is also a rather grim summary of how the US views the prospects of the EU actually rising to the challenge. Though the US badly needs a strong partner to counter the rising influence of China and would like to see a more united EU, the consensus in Washington since 2005 has been that it is unlikely to see that materialise. So it now essentially takes a piecemeal approach to treating Europe as an equal partner. When Europe is strong and united in trade issues, Washington listens. When it is split in foreign policy however, it ignores them. In the later scenario, where different national governments act individually, the report concludes, “Europeans are asking to be divided and ruled.”
The result of all this, the authors concludes, is “a frustrated US and an impotent Europe.” The situation manifests itself, for example, in the Afghanistan conflice – where Europe has 30,000 troops yet virtually no say in strategy. They write:
“European governments need to get over the mistaken belief that their individual ‘special relationships' matter in Washington, and learn instead to act together and speak to the US with one voice.”Reading this report, I can’t help but feel that it is in large part addressed to the UK in particular. The British public should keep these things in mind when they head to the polls next year. As I’ve written about before, Cameron’s Europe policy will have important ramifications for not only the future of the UK, but the future of Europe as a whole. As the report points out, the danger of ‘damaging illusions’ in policy-making are no insignificant matter.