Brussels Unbound

Brussels Unbound

Mini Teaser: The EU has "unilateralist" ambitions.

by Author(s): Jeffrey L. Cimbalo

America's selective forbearance with the EU will require the utmost diplomatic skill, combining high-profile but low-cost gestures. For example, U.S. efforts to bolster the EU's profile at the UN and other international organizations by involving it as a full party demonstrates U.S. support for the prestige of the EU, with few foreseeable negative repercussions. In addition, cooperating with the EU on defense procurement or planning would not create unreasonable or immediate risks to American policy. Also, allowing NATO assets to facilitate EU-designed military maneuvers or interventions may imply greater redundancy and higher costs than a NATO-flagged mission, but such cooperation would not appear to endanger the success of any conceivable operation in the near term and could help future military planning and operations over the long term--given the possibility that the EU may one day agree on a "common defense", a common national security strategy and a common foreign policy.

Those overtures must be balanced with America's immediate scaling-back of its joint diplomacy with the EU in key areas involving third parties. The United States should conduct its most sensitive diplomacy in concert with more established and legitimate multinational institutions and single member states or groups of member states.

The sole area of EU policy that has been validated by treaty and established as to its foreign policy powers, however limited, is that regarding the European Community. The use of EC policy as a tool of joint U.S.-EU diplomacy should therefore be re-emphasized. In addition, the United States should encourage small groups of interested parties to form around certain issues, but, unlike the EU-3, these should not be constrained by the real or imaginary collective will of EU elites.

The United States must be wary of ascribing powers to the EU that its member states have not consented to. Until the current constitutional crisis passes and the EU's powers over foreign policy become more clearly enunciated, the United States should limit itself to working with the strongest and most legitimate institutions the nations of Europe can offer. A balanced approach towards diplomacy with the EU will facilitate future cooperation, no matter how "Europe's" political union is ultimately determined.

Jeffrey L. Cimbalo is a lawyer in Virginia.

Essay Types: Essay