If Europe cannot agree on the small issues of defence and foreign policy, how can it do so on the big ones, such as the use of military force? The answer is that it does not even want toby Josef Joffe / July 20, 1997 / Leave a comment
One of the pillars of our fabled Maastricht treaty, right up there next to monetary union, is the common foreign and security policy. In English, the acronym for this unwieldy concept is CFSP: in German, the abbreviation reads Gasp. Gasp, although an accidental pun, is a nice way of framing the issue. The term evokes choking, panting, wheezing, helplessness-an appropriate description of the problems Europe has encountered while trying to formulate a common policy in matters of diplomacy and defence.
Klaus Kinkel, the German foreign minister, has defined that ambition: “We want majority decisions [in the EU], above all in the common foreign and security policy.” It sounds like a simple goal. But, if realised, the CFSP would signal the most profound break in the history of statecraft since Richelieu and later Bismarck formulated the essential tenets of raison d’?tat.
Reason of state knows no moral law other than necessity and no higher authority than the state. It is chained to another enduring imperative of the state system: sovereignty. Sovereignty means that the state, and no supra or sub-national institution, shall have the last word in the intercourse with other states. Sovereignty’s embodiment is the veto, such as that retained by the five permanent members of the United Nations security council. Hence it is the very opposite of decision by majority. In such a setting, state A would stand ready to submit to the wills of states B, C, D. In other words, A would yield the very essence of statehood.
Will the members of the EU yield their sovereignty for the sake of Europe? Bismarck once scribbled in the margin of a letter from the Russian chancellor Gorchakov: Qui parle d’Europe a tort; notion g?ographique-whoever talks about Europe is wrong; merely a geographical notion. True, that was in 1868, during the classic age of cabinet diplomacy and realpolitik. Neither Klaus Kinkel nor Jacques Chirac, the French president, would today admit to the cynicism that Bismarck preached.
Since then, Europe has become much more than a mere geographical notion. It is no longer just the sum of the 15 EU member states. In many ways, these states have shared, relinquished, collectivised sovereignty. They submit to the verdicts of the European court. They allow Brussels to dictate the shape and price of bananas their citizens may ingest. They have opened their borders to EU-wide competition, even where it comes to…