This is a briefing note prepared for the incoming president after the US election of November 2004. In real life, the author is Roy Denman, a former European Union ambassador to Washingtonby Roy Denman / December 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
President-elect, we talked briefly today about Europe. The National Security Council will be giving you detailed briefing about issues and personalities. You asked me for a background note on some of the basics: the state of the European Union today; whether, for the US, Europe is a good or bad thing; and since you are meeting the British prime minister, Tony Blair, informally in New York next month, the role which the British have played and how far we can rely on them today.
on europe today: the EU, as constituted by the Treaty of Aachen in the year 2000 is in effect a continental European federation. It comprises 11 countries-France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries (the original six of 1957), Austria, Ireland, Finland, Spain and Portugal-but minus four previous members-Britain, Denmark, Sweden and Greece. The latter have associate status, but no part in its decision making.
The 11 countries represent a formidable bloc: 300m people with a GNP of some $7 trillion. They have a president elected by popular vote; he appoints members of his executive (the commission), just as the US president does, in the case of the EU after consultation with the states. These retain their identities, like the Swiss cantons or the states of America. They also still exercise their powers on local issues, but for questions which have to be dealt with at the centre, power has passed to member state ministers in Brussels, subject to a European parliament.
A little history will explain the present set-up. The Treaty of Rome in 1957 established a customs union and by 1992 a programme to create a single market was mostly completed. In 1999 an inner group, around France and Germany, moved to a single currency. In the year 2000 it was joined by the rest of the union, minus Britain and Sweden, which were reluctant to contemplate this loss of sovereignty; Denmark, whose government wanted to join but was blocked by its parliament; and Greece, which wanted to join but was turned down. The rest went ahead to create a federation under the new Treaty of Aachen. In terms of:
Economics: the union is a single market with a common tariff against third countries. There is not only a single currency but also a single economic policy, with only minor variations between states. Economic policy meetings at head of government or finance minister level,…