Europe and the Amsterdam Treaty

I.P. Khosla,Former Indian Ambassador,Holland



Preparations for the Amsterdam Treaty started in March 1996 with the launch of an Inter-Governmental Conference of the 15 member states of the European Union (EU). The conference concluded fifteen months later with a European summit at Amsterdam which finalised the treaty text and confirmed that the third stage of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) would begin on January 1, 1999. EMU, in turn, is the irreversible entry point for the road into full economic integration; this is expected to be accompanied, or soon followed, by the emergence of a Europe that speaks with one voice on the world stage, and makes an independent contribution to the preservation of international peace and security. If EMU succeeds "the European Union is set on the path of actually becoming a modern power."1

Some comment on the treaty was cautious: the treaty, "although another step down the road to integration, was not the great leap forward many countries had hoped for."2 Other comment was harsh: "two and a half days of wearisome bargaining produced more of a mouse than a mountain."3 But in general, there was guarded optimism and broad agreement with President of the European Commission, Jacques Santer, when he told the European Parliament, "We have embarked on a new stage in community history." Despite the stop-go history of European integration, and the continuing problems like regionalism and unemployment that have slowed progress towards unity,4 the treaty did seem to mark another milestone on the road to a European superpower. For Europe has the economic and military strength to become a major actor on the world stage, an independent entity which can help shape the order of world events.

But it has not moved towards fulfilling this potential; on the contrary the signs of political independence that were once emerging have almost entirely disappeared. While showing considerable independence in trade and other commercial and economic matters, where foreign and security policy is concerned, it has gradually come into a tighter US embrace. This has puzzled observers, and they have put forward a variety of explanations, none of which seems satisfactory. The truth seems to be that while European economic integration will continue, making the post-expansion EU an economic giant of even larger dimensions than at present, it will remain politically weak. Within the US scheme of things the EU has a specific role to play: in foreign policy the propagation of a structure of values (which is specifically Western in origin and application) by using the international economic leverage available; and in security policy to pull the Central and East European states into a framework shaped largely by the USA; but its actions are those of a junior partner whose role is to reinforce the global presence of the USA.

On the international scene, therefore, far from contributing to the emergence of a more balanced world order of multipolarity, European foreign and security policy helps to strengthen and consolidate a unipolar structure.

For Indian foreign policy it is important to understand fully the nature of the EU as an entity in world affairs, to engage it in dialogue where our economic interests converge, but not to expect too much in foreign and security policy.

Economic Integration

The EU is already a unified trading bloc; there is a single external trading policy, no restrictions on the internal movement of goods, and the few limitations on the free movement of services are quickly being removed. The Treaty on European Union (TEU) signed at Maastricht in February 1992 took the process of integration forward by a big step, though it was later criticised as being too hasty and badly drafted. The Amsterdam Treaty marks a further step in European construction and also opened the way for launching the enlargement of the Union. Progress towards uniformity or harmonisation in budgetary, financial and currency matters is inexorable, being governed by the start on January 1, 1999, of the third stage of EMU and the introduction on that date of a single currency, the Euro. Britain, Denmark, Greece and Sweden may initially stay out of the third stage, but even they are likely to have their currencies linked to it through the Exchange Rate Mechanism, allowing a maximum fluctuation in value of their currencies against the Euro of 15 per cent. Centralised control over the national macro-economic variables of those who are out will be tight, and in the case of those who are in will be tighter. Budget deficits, the size of the national debt, interest rates and the rate of inflation will be subject to central surveillance; unacceptable divergence will be met by sanctions. The Amsterdam summit agreed to a Stability and Growth Pact "on the strengthening of the surveillance and coordination of economic policies" in order to ensure this.

Such an extensive surrender by the participating member states of national economic sovereignty to a central agency means a significant increase in Europe's economic weight; in initiating action, or in reacting to external developments concerning trade or investment, production and scale or purchase and consumption, the size of the entity that other economic players have to deal with has steadily increased over the years, and will keep on increasing as integration intensifies and the Union is enlarged after the Amsterdam Treaty.

Europe's Economic and Potential Weight

The population of the EU at 370 million is 41 per cent larger than that of the USA. The combined GDP of the members is 15 per cent larger. In international trade and aid, which are important criteria to determine external influence and power, the EU is also ahead. It accounts for 20 per cent of world trade as compared with 16 per cent for the USA; and the disaggregated figures for the trade with the developing countries are 40 per cent and 16 per cent. Taking EU and member states bilateral aid together, the EU is a much larger donor of ODA; giving some US$30 billion spread over many countries in the Third World, and comprising 0.38 per cent of total GDP as compared with the US figure of $7.6 billion comprising 0.1 per cent, most of which goes to just three countries, Egypt, Israel and Turkey. As Jacques Poos, Foreign Minister of Luxembourg and then President of the Council5 pointed out to the UN General Assembly with pride in September 1997, "The Union is already the largest contributor to the UN's regular budget as well as its budget for peacekeeping operations. It is also the largest international aid donor. The European Community and its member states provide over half the humanitarian aid dispensed in the world and fund 50 per cent of international development aid. We provide 40 per cent of the assistance for the reconstruction process in Bosnia and Herzegovina, nearly 60 per cent of the international aid to Russia and the republics of the former Soviet Union, one-half of the aid for the Palestinian territories and one-third of the total aid for the Middle East."

The EU is also an independent economic power. Economic interdependence between the EU and the USA is high, but the latter is slightly more dependent, since as a percentage its exports to the former matter more (18.7 per cent of GDP in 1995) than vice versa (16.8 per cent in 1995). Mutual investment is substantial, but the EU employs more Americans through its investments than vice versa (3 million compared to 2.3).6 Above all, the EU has shown that it is prepared to take on the USA where its commercial and economic interests would otherwise be jeopardised. From 1986, when US opposition to the proposed pipeline to bring Soviet gas into West Europe was brushed aside despite threats, to 1996, when a French oil major signed a contract to develop a large oilfield in Iran despite the D'Amato Act authorising the US President to take action in such a case and Commissioner Leon Brittan advised the Americans to "think very carefully" before taking any action, Europe has repeatedly and often successfully stood its ground. Bilateral trade disputes, often involving subsidies by the EU to its export products, have been fought out over the years-among others the Airbus Industrie dispute, that over growth hormones in beef rearing, on steel exports or canned food-and the EU has invariably protected its interests vigorously.

As a military entity, too, the EU seems to be a sizeable power, though not in the same class at the USA. Since two of the member states are nuclear weapon powers, it is possible to envisage a Union with a Eurobomb as an effective independent deterrent, i.e. one which enables a defence policy outside the scope of the US nuclear umbrella. The British nuclear force is dependent for its launchers and sea launching platforms on the USA and its nuclear posture is subject to joint planning with the latter; but the French force de frappe developed as an independent deterrent in case of threats to French vital interests, and now, in the absence of any such threat, is sought to be the heart of an emerging European nuclear doctrine. Conceivably Britain and France could combine to evolve into a single nuclear power with global reach. The French would like European unification to parallel an extension within the EU of the list of nations with common vital interests, nations which would thereby come under a French or Anglo-French nuclear umbrella, and this sometimes seems remotely possibly, despite the reservations of Denmark and the neutral member states of the EU.

In terms of conventional strength, as force levels and defence budgets are reduced following the end of the Cold War the EU jointly has apparently improved the self-reliance of its position vis-a-vis the USA.7 During the Cold War years, US military strength in Europe was over 300,000, which by 1997 had been drastically reduced to 100,000. European force levels have been reduced, too, to levels below the permitted ceilings under the CFE-1A agreement of July 1992, but the reduction has not been so sharp. As consistently urged by Washington, the balance between US and European forces is now such that the latter can assume greater responsibility in the field, though their continuing dependence on US assets (particularly logistics and intelligence) is now being built into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) doctrine. Nevertheless a larger manpower contribution might be assumed to give the Europeans a larger, if not an independent, say. In a decade of generally declining defence expenditure, the EU's share relative to that of the US total has also risen from 54 per cent in 1986 to 70 per cent in 1996, which should contribute to that larger say.

The Inability or Unwillingness to Lead

Given these strengths, the realist theory of international relations leads to the conclusion that the EU should behave like a great power on the global political stage; but this has not happened. That the EU as a collectivity has acted more like a junior partner of the USA than some of its member states, such as France, can be illustrated by four examples.

The October 1973 Arab-Israel War led to the further development of a European position that had, since 1970, gradually been distancing itself from that of the USA. European dependence on Arab oil was, no doubt, a considerable incentive for doing so. But it was the unilateral policy of the USA before and during that war that moved the EC to assert, in a statement of November 1973, which the Americans disapproved, that for a just and lasting peace in the region "account must be taken of the legitimate rights of the Palestinians"; thereafter other statements were issued on the same lines. Finally, in June 1980, the famous Venice Declaration calling for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to be "associated" with the negotiations, while seeking to get even closer to the Arab position, in fact disappointed the latter, who had been led to expect more. The Americans did not like any of these statements, nor did Israel. So "the net result of the Venice Declaration was that Israel vetoed, until recently, any meaningful European participation in the Middle East peace process and the Arab world perceived a gap between what Europe declares and what it can do, which further eroded European influence."8

Meanwhile, a Euro-Arab dialogue was started in December 1973 when five Arab Foreign Ministers attended a European Community (EC) summit. But this initiative quickly came under pressure from the USA, which wanted the West to present a united position, and insisted that political matters be excluded. So the dialogue continued sporadically for a decade, with the Arabs keen that Europe take an interest in political matters concerning West Asia, while the Europeans, under US pressure, wished to emphasise economic and cultural matters. At the December 1983 dialogue session, a final communique could not be agreed, and that was the end of the dialogue. One commentator wrote, "The United States won...Once again, the Europeans found that there were limits to their ability to frame autonomous policies, which they could not ignore without seriously endangering their overall relationship with the United States."9 Today, despite contributing half the total international aid to the Palestinian territories, the EU is able only to issue statements, declarations and common positions as a bystander, while the USA conducts the peace process.

On December 13, 1981, after eighteen months of strikes, demonstrations and protests, the government of Polish President Jaruzelski declared martial law.10 The EC's initial reaction was not to toe the US line. President Reagan had said on December 17 that it would be naive "to think this could happen without the full knowledge and support of the Soviet Union"; and he proceeded to put in place the machinery for imposing economic sanctions against both Poland and the Soviet Union.

EC members had interests which the USA did not. Germany was keen to continue its ostpolitik uninterrupted; several members were involved in the Soviet gas pipeline project which would bring gas from the Soviet Union to West Europe, and, in fact, right in the middle of the so-called Polish crisis, several natural gas agreements and contracts were announced. The first EC statement did not even mention the Soviet Union, and the second indicated that no sanctions should be imposed on either Poland or the Soviet Union. Then US pressure began to make itself felt. In early January 1982, the President of the EU Council of Ministers said, echoing Reagan, "Without the influence of the Soviet Union it wouldn't be possible to have events like what we have now in Poland." And by late February, the EC had committed itself to imposing sanctions similar to those of the USA. Today the speed and thoroughness with which Central and East Europe is to be integrated into the security, political and economic groupings of the West is influenced by the EU and its members, and, as in the case of Palestine, they donate the bulk of the international aid; but the final decisions are being taken in Washington.

A decade later, when Yugoslavia started breaking up with the declaration of independence by Slovenia and Croatia in June 1991, there was an even more dramatic demonstration of the inability of Europe to undertake independent action in international political matters. The EC sent a mission to Yugoslavia which seemed to be successful in bringing an end to the fighting that had broken out, but soon thereafter intra-EC fissures appeared; there seemed to be no coherent or overall policy based on interests, despite the fact that Europe should have had the primary set of interests in a European country which was a close neighbour. Their official position was to work for the continued unity of Yugoslavia, but Germany pressed for action which would end that unity; President Mitterand of France launched a unilateral initiative, which failed; Greece had its own interests in Macedonia which did not coincide with those of the others. Through the year 1992, the Europeans tried somehow to retain the initiative, the evident failure of which led to the UN taking the lead; and thence matters passed into the hands of NATO and the USA. Today, despite here again contributing the bulk of international aid to former Yugoslavia, the Europeans have the role of junior partners, while the USA takes the lead in the peace process and the credit for the Dayton Peace Accords.

Somalia is the fourth example. The overthrow of Siad Barre at the end of 1990 was followed by civil war which gradually turned to virtual anarchy, and a food shortage amounting to famine. Italy and the UK were the former colonial powers; both had continuing interests in the region, but in this case the lead was firmly in the hands of the USA from the outset. US persistence led the UN Security Council in December 1992 to authorise a task force (UNITAF) which, when established, comprised largely US troops. Again it was a US initiative which led to a broadening of international peace-keeping tasks under another Security Council Resolution of March 1993 authorising UNOSOM II. But there was no coordinated European response. Six EC members, including the UK, decided not to participate in the peace-keeping operation at all. The response of the others gave the impression that there was no European policy. Italy contributed the largest contingent, because of its interests as a former colonial power; Germany participated for domestic political reasons, since the Basic Law could be interpreted as forbidding such participation and Chancellor Kohl wished to override such an interpretation; Ireland participated because of domestic pressures concerning the humanitarian aspects of the crisis; the Belgian reasons for participation were obscure, though speculation suggested they may have had in mind the need to get experience in case a similar crisis broke in Zaire, a former colony in which substantial interests remained; it was unclear why Greece participated.

Then, when the USA decided on a precipitate withdrawal after an elite US unit suffered 18 killed and 75 injured on October 3, 1993, the EU nations quickly followed suit.

Three Explanations

This continuing inability of the EU to formulate and carry out an independent foreign policy based on Europe's interests, in other words never acting like a great power despite possessing the requisites for that status, has puzzled international relations theorists, other commentators and political leaders; it accords ill with everyday knowledge about the centuries of Europe's political and security ties and involvement with the rest of the world.

Explanations have been put forward in the effort to solve this puzzle; it is common to see assessments about Europe's role in the promotion of multipolarity, difficult to understand that by reinforcing unipolarity its policy is pointing in the opposite direction, a difficulty made more acute by wishful thinking about a future in which the role of the USA stands diminished, and by the series of statements emerging from European leaders about the independence of the EU. Explanations are thus required. Some of them stop with terminology: it is called a "security community," meaning one in which no member could conceivably go to war with another in furtherance of national interests; or a "civil power," meaning a power without military-political weight; or an additional actor on the world stage, whose role has not yet been allotted; but there are three more elaborate explanations.

Changing IR theory

The first is theoretical; that the nature of international relations (IR) is changing, particularly in the post-Cold War world, but even before that, and West Europe has taken the lead in moving towards the future. The realist theory of Hans Morgenthau, refined by Kenneth Waltz11 into neo-realism, is the traditional post-1945 view of international relations. In this theory states are the primary and most important actors in an international system without rules or morality; in this anarchic landscape "the concept of interest defined in terms of power," in Morgenthau's classic phrase, is the main signpost for the (realist) political analyst. Depending on their respective power capabilities, states are in perpetual rivalry, each aiming at the least at defending its borders; at most at dominating its neighbours and expanding the scope of its interests in other ways.

According to this first explanation the absence of this kind of rivalry within West Europe or between the EU and the USA is due to the rise of transnational actors such as the multinational corporations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), but even more so the rapid growth of a network of inter-governmental institutions which spans Europe and reach has across the Atlantic. Institutions like the EU, NATO, the Western European Union generate a multiplicity of subordinate institutions, committees and groups which facilitate agreements where differences exist, enmesh governments in a continual process of bargaining and negotiations whereby other interests are seen more clearly, and one's own adjusted to a cooperative framework, thus mitigating nationalist aspirations for pursuing interest through power. In this world of "complex interdependence," as its theorists like Keohane12 contend, elements of anarchy and traditional pursuit of power continue to exist, but the spread and multiplication of institutions through which states increasingly pursue their aims substantially reduce the applicability of the realist theory. The widening web of institutionalism will gradually make it less relevant to think in terms of great powers, multipolarity or the independent states of the EU; power will get dispersed to multilateral actors, sub-regional entities and local interests. In such a world, the EU, with a wider set of networks than any other region or group, will have the edge.

A Global Diplomatic Presence

The second explanation is that, despite appearances to the contrary suggested by the four examples given above, the EU is already an internationally significant actor. "It may not be a superpower...but it is certainly a global power..."13 The evidence cited in support of this view is the high diplomatic profile adopted by the EU since the early 1970s, particularly the series of dialogues with other regions, of which the earliest was with the Mediterranean.

In October 1972, the EC launched a global Mediterranean policy to institutionalise within one framework the many bilateral agreements that then existed. For over twenty years, the policy focussed on economic matters; then in November 1995, Foreign Ministers of the 15 EU states and of all the Mediterranean countries (except Libya) met and expressed their conviction "that the peace, stability and security of the Mediterranean region are a common asset which they pledge to promote and strengthen by all means at their disposal."14 They agreed to develop the rule of law and democracy in their political systems, to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to combat in their societies manifestations of intolerance, racism and xenophobia. They also agreed on a new framework of relations with a detailed work programme to give it political effect; and this included the establishment of a free trade area through new Euro-Mediterranean agreements by the year 2010, and financial assistance in the form of grants and loans from the EU. A follow-up Euro-Mediterranean conference was held at Valetta in April 1997 which decided to continue the good work to ensure "fulfilment of the common objectives in matters of external and internal stability, inter alia the rule of law, democracy and human rights." In a nutshell, the deal was that in exchange for trade and aid concessions, the non-European Mediterranean countries would work towards establishing, within their societies, the value systems being propagated by the EU.

The Euro-Arab dialogue, which has been mentioned above, is another example of such regional initiatives.

In Africa south of the Sahara, European policy initially focussed on development through trade concessions and economic aid, starting with the Yaounde Convention of 1963 which was succeeded by the Lome Convention of 1976. By the fourth Lome Convention (1990-1999), a Euro-Africa Council of Ministers was created which includes the 15 members of the EU Council, members of the European Commission and one member of each of the non-European states,15 almost 90 Ministers meeting annually. It is now planned to take the Euro-African or Euro-ACP dialogue a step higher with a summit to take place not later than the year 2000.

Europe's regional policy in Asia started with an EC-ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) ministerial conference in 1978 which was followed by a cooperation agreement covering commercial, economic and developmental issues. Regular Minister level meetings followed at which, apart from economic issues, the EU made allegations of human rights violations, specially in Indonesia and, in the 1990s, in Myanmar. The level of the dialogue was raised and its scope widened with the Asian-Europe Summit (ASEM) held in Bangkok in March 1996, followed by another in London in April 1998, though these included only South-East and Pacific Asia, not South Asia.

There are other examples, like the San Jose process, a dialogue at Minister level with the Contadora and Central American states, which became established as an annual Minister level meeting to discuss trade, aid and also the amelioration of conflict in the Latin American region. Indeed, the EC, under the influence of Portugal and Spain (who became members in 1986), even attempted to distance itself from US policy and carry out an independent reconciliation effort, which was soon abandoned. But conference diplomacy continues; a summit level meeting between the EU and Latin American and Caribbean states is planned for the first half of 1999.

Building the Institutions

Neither of these two explanations are convincing. That complex interdependence is gradually displacing the realities of power equations is a theory that came from a desire to explain, or even justify the fact that Europe's economic strength was not matched by its international political presence; it was not developed independently and then harnessed as an explanatory theory. The balance of influence within Europe between the big three, the medium powers like Italy and Spain, and the smaller ones provides evidence that even here a power hierarchy continues to operate. As for the inter-regional conferences, the policy of the EU is diplomatic rather than political; to the extent there is a political content, it serves, as will be seen below, the interests of the USA.

A third explanation is needed; this is, that while the EU has all the potential for becoming an independent great power, integration and institution building to unify policy has to advance a few more steps before that potential is realised. One authority argues that "it has only made the first steps towards becoming a genuine supra-national body and a qualitatively new force in international politics."16 Article I of the Amsterdam Treaty incorporates a resolve to implement a common foreign and security policy including the progressive framing of a common defence policy, "thereby reinforcing the European identity and its independence in order to promote peace, security and progress in Europe and in the world"; and the link between the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the assertion of the European identity on the international scene is a theme that runs right through the text and subsequent statements.

But a modern power has to assert its identity in terms of specified interests, and neither the texts nor the explanatory statements provide useful information on what these might be. Peace, security and progress are goals which few would find it easy to disagree with; safeguarding the common values, fundamental interests, independence and integrity of the Union, which Article J.1 lays down, are also general aims to be found in most foreign policy manifestos; but their link with action in a specific situation is provided by an often unwritten but nevertheless clearly perceived realist self-interest, and this link is missing. Indeed the varying and occasionally conflicting foreign policy interests and unilateral initiatives taken by different members of the EU lead to the suspicion that in most cases a single European self-interest does not exist, unless the matter is of commercial interest. France and the UK have policies towards their ex-colonies in which they do not want the EU to interfere, as has Portugal in Africa; German priority is the eastward expansion of the Union which would bring Bonn (or Berlin) to the heart of united Europe; Greece and Italy focus on the Mediterranean; the planned eastwards expansion of the EU will have to accommodate Russian pressure as well as the historical disputes that have arisen in the east since the early 19th century. Even the trade of the members with developing countries is primarily directed towards the respective former colonies. European countries' foreign policy interests are diverse and every attempt to force them into a uniform mould has led to dissonance and further reluctance to transfer authority to a central foreign policy decision-making body. Where foreign policy interests are common, they are there to complement US policy.

Prima facie it appears unlikely that further integration and institution building will lead to a European self-interest which is genuinely independent, but it is worth looking briefly at the two routes that are being tried under the Amsterdam Treaty in this regard.

The first is to modify decision-making procedures in the Council. In terms of the TEU, the CFSP is the responsibility of the Council and decisions on it are taken by consensus. It is one of the two inter-governmental pillars established under the TEU. To have the EU as a full-fledged supra-national entity on the international scene would mean transferring this subject to the Commission. As Commissioner Hans van der Broek said in 1995, "The challenge is to devise a method for moving from today's predominantly inter-governmental approach to foreign and security policy towards a more integrated approach..."17 However, it became clear during the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) that, far from transferring any authority in this respect to the Commission, the member states wished to retain the veto power given by the consensus provision.

The Amsterdam Treaty, therefore, only attempted to introduce an area of qualified majority voting18 in CFSP decisions by dividing this into four categories: principles and general guidelines; common strategies; joint actions; and common positions. Where a common strategy has been adopted by consensus, decisions under it like joint actions or common positions may be taken by qualified majority vote. However, mainly on British insistence, a clause was also inserted that where, for important and stated reasons of national policy a member declares its intention to oppose a decision, the vote shall not be taken. Further, there was no attempt to define any of the four categories into which CFSP was divided. Given the past history of differences over what constitutes a joint action or a common position, over what is a declaration and what a statement, this is not a small problem. It is not to be expected that common interests will emerge from this minor change in decision-making procedures.

Subsequently, an EU summit of December 1997 decided that negotiations with Cyprus and five East European states for future membership of the Union will begin in April 1998, and that preparations for membership negotiations will also begin with another five East European states; the addition of 11 states to the EU, most with differing foreign policy interests of their own, will make it impossible in the near future to develop any coherent and independent CFSP.

The second is to set up two additional structures: a policy planning and early warning unit to monitor and analyse developments and provide statements of the EU's foreign and security interests in general or in a particular situation; and a High Representative of the EU under its CFSP provisions to show that it has one voice on the international scene. These add-ons are also not expected to result in the emergence of genuinely European common interests in foreign and security policy.

Thus, none of the three kinds of explanation are convincing or satisfactory, and we are obliged to turn to the only explanation left, which is usually given with some hesitation: that the EU is, and will remain, an economic and commercial superpower, but it will also continue to see its common foreign policy and security interests indissolubly bound to those of the USA.

The Structure of Values

However, it is equally important to attempt an analytical framework within which the various EU initiatives and actions on the CFSP can be seen; and the starting point for this is the set of issues on which it has, from the outset, been possible for the EU and its fifteen members to agree. These issues indicate that Europe's policy is not simply to be subordinate to the USA but, given that the latter will almost invariably take the lead, to make a strong contribution as a junior partner in terms of its own history, tradition and present strength, to policies that are emerging as Atlantic or Western policies. This set of issues has three sources.

The first is Europe's present self-image as the "heartland of the civilisation" that created certain principles and thereby extended its influence around the world.19 This generally pervasive view is based on the Europe of today bringing together the legacy of ancient Greece which gave mankind the use of the rational faculty, hence modern sciences as well as democratic practice; that of Rome which brought civilised Western mankind under one political allegiance under law and order and stability; and the legacy of Christianity which stressed the value of the individual and of equality, thus reinforcing the Greek concept of democracy. These combined into a single heritage which today translates into modern ideas like the value of responsible government, of freedom and democracy and the rule of law; Europe's natural progression is thus towards a unity based on its common values.

Secondly, parallel with Europe's pride in having given modern civilisation to mankind is the reality that this self-image is of recent origin and, in fact, was formed largely as a result of the intensive contact with non-European peoples arising out of empire building in the 19th century. For Europe "it was the contrast between itself and the outer world that enabled it most fully to recognise itself and what it had in common. It saw itself as civilisation confronting barbarism."20 Europe's sense of its singular cultural heritage and unique contribution to mankind developed largely because of the contrast Europeans saw between themselves and the less advantaged peoples of Asia and Africa. This scheme turns history into a moral success story, "a tale about the furtherance of virtue, about how the virtuous win out over the bad guys."21

Thirdly, the general termination of colonial rule in the post-1945 period made it even more important to propagate, as part of a continued claim to civilisational leadership, the values of democratic and pluralist polities, freedom of expression and of institutions, and free enterprise which were claimed to be a distinctly European heritage. A concomitant theme, applied specially to Asia and Africa, was that parts of the world were sliding into chaos and anarchy; statehood was unnaturally imposed on them by the former imperial powers, and with independence they were reverting to the violent reassertion of local interests of the pre-imperial fragmented units, and the West had a moral duty amounting almost to a right, to continue its civilising mission by propagating the values which would ensure stability. From one point of view, this is a new version of hegemoney, "a structure of values and understanding about the nature of order that permeates a whole system of states and non-state entities...a structure of meanings underpinned by a structure of power."22 But from another viewpoint, the success of the EU, therefore, depends not so much on the development of an independent political identity, but on whether there exist non-EU regions and countries with different, less modern values, and where European values can be meaningfully propagated. This was so before the Cold War ended, and is even more so now.

The propagation of a structure of values based broadly on those inscribed in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights dates from the time that declaration was discussed and agreed, but until 1989 this was done mainly to counter the Soviet Union, to influence people within the Soviet alliance system and in the Third World. It was also done on an ad hoc basis; as the nature of US-Soviet relations evolved, so did the concepts propagated, the emphasis being on freedom at one time, human rights at another, democracy at yet another; and it was the USA that took the lead, deciding in each case the central theme of the campaign and the way it should be developed.

After 1989 all this changed. The Soviet Union, the Soviet alliance and the Soviet threat had disappeared, and the main reason for the West's victory in the Cold War was held to be the process of popular awakening in that system started by the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. The package of measures relating to human rights and democratic freedoms which was included in that document was, therefore, taken as the recipe for change, and ad hocism was no longer necessary since a ready made package was available which was encodified in the 1990 Charter of Paris; this opened with the statement that "the will of the peoples and the power of the ideas of the Helsinki Final Act have opened a new era of democracy, peace and unity in Europe." West Europe had, in this process, offered the proximate example and done the hard work for change in the East; in the changing balance of international economic power, furthermore, West Europe had a growing share of the levers of trade and aid, hence would in future play a larger role in the propagation of the structure of values.

Using the Available Levers

Before 1989 this was not an important element in the EU's foreign policy. The 1987 General Report on the activities of the European Communities mentions human rights and fundamental freedoms as one of the bases for community action, and calls attention to the link between progress in developing countries and respect for the value of the human person. By 1988, Gorbachev had been General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) for three years, perestroika was well under way, and the General Report emphasises respect for the principles of democracy also as a community task, but violation of these values was to be met only by "disquiet." 1991 was the year in which it was decided to use the leverages.

President of the Commission Jacques Delors declared in March 1991 that Europe's founding fathers had the ideal of bringing together a community which would be "in a better position than each country on its own to give practical expression to shared values, to defend those values where they were threatened, and to promote them where they did not exist." And this would not be limited to Europe; for "all around us naked ambition, lust for power, national uprisings and underdevelopment are combining to create potentially dangerous situations, containing the seeds of destabilisation and conflict..."23 In September of that year, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for references to human rights in the whole range of agreements that the EU signed with non-EU countries.

By then negotiations had started on the first of the Europe agreements, association agreements under which the EU gave to the individual Central and East European countries trade concessions, a political dialogue and the hope of full integration into the EU as the rewards for guaranteeing, within their political systems, respect for human rights and the structure of values set down in the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter. Most of the Europe agreements incorporate, as was later to become a general pattern, suspension clauses--that the agreements could be suspended if these provisions (often written down as "essential elements") were violated.

By gradual steps, clauses specifying respect for human rights and democratic values, as also a liberalised market economy became standard in the EU's agreements with other countries and regions; they were incorporated in such a way as to make it clear that trade concessions and aid were being given on condition that these were effectively (if not verifiably) implemented on the ground by the signatory.

The codification of the structure of values is well summarised in the general guidelines adopted by the European Council in October 1996; the EU's contribution to stability and economic renewal in former Yugoslavia consequent to the Dayton Peace Agreements is there made conditional on "a framework which promotes democracy, the rule of law, higher standards of human and minority rights, transformation towards market economies and greater cooperation between the recipient countries."24 The year 1997 saw this taken to its logical end in the Council conclusion on the applicability of a coherent strategy for relations with South-East Europe. Trade preferences were to be linked to the "respect for fundamental principles of democracy and human rights"; economic aid was linked to "evidence of a country's credible commitment to democratic reforms and progress in compliance with the generally recognised standards of human and minority rights," which included the holding of free and fair elections at reasonable intervals and the proper implementation of their results.25

European Commissioner Emma Bonino put the future of EU foreign policy succinctly on October 14, 1997: "I am increasingly convinced that a single foreign policy based on interest is not sustainable. I continue to believe that there is no alternative, for Europe and the rest of the world, to a foreign policy that has to be anchored in ethics and inspired on principles, and to begin with, respect for the dignity of the human being."26

New Spectrum of Threats

The other side of promoting the structure of values through economic incentives and penalties is the defence against threats to it, which, in the post-Cold War period, had to be reassessed. The basic aim is contained in a document, "Preliminary Conclusions on the Formulation of a Common European Defence Policy," which was adopted by the Ministerial Council of the Western European Union (WEU) in November 1994. The policy is "directed towards the reduction of risks and uncertainties that might threaten the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the Union and its member states."27 That the threat of aggression, or even attack by regular armed forces having disappeared, the EU was (as was the USA and, in imitation, many others who did face conventional threats) eagerly looking for new threats to incorporate into a reconstructed security (not "defence" as in the Cold War years) doctrine is apparent from the many statements made on the subject. One example is that of European Commissioner van der Broek in October 1995, talking about the dramatic change in the EU's strategic situation: "The Soviet threat has disappeared, but many different new risks have appeared. These include local conflicts with the potential to spill over to neighbouring states or to escalate, terrorism, extremism, fundamentalism, international crime and arms trafficking, including the illegal sale of nuclear materials."28 A slightly different list in the continuing search for security threats was given by Council President Jacques Poos to the UN General Assembly in September 1997: "Free of the threat of confrontation in a polarised world, we are faced today with a series of global problems both old and new: underdevelopment, population growth, increasingly large scale migration, damage to the environment, the proliferation of every kind of weapon, terrorism, ethnic conflict, drug trafficking, violence and crime, often in a form never encountered before."

There are many similar listings, and all have a family resemblance going back to the key word "stability." Instability encapsulates the threat list, and stability provides security against it and, more important, the link to the structure of values. Of the many statements on the issue one suffices to elaborate the point. "We are convinced that stability today and tomorrow has its internal roots in healthy societies--societies where human rights are respected, democratic structures function, and a free market economy flourishes."29

Western European Union

The chosen instrument to ensure stability within the framework of the reconstructed security doctrine was the WEU. This had been established under a 50-year treaty "for collaboration in economic, social and cultural matters and for collective self-defence" signed by the Benelux countries, France and the UK in March 1948; the main target was the possibility of German resurgence. In 1954, Germany and Italy joined the WEU which, having now lost its raison d'etre, went into thirty years of dormancy. In 1984, European integrationists, fired by the zeal which led to the 1986 Single Europe Act, also thought of renewing the WEU. The Foreign and Defence Ministers of the seven member states met in Rome in October 1984 and "underlined their determination to make better use of the WEU framework in order to increase cooperation between the member states in the field of security policy." The subsequent and more regular meetings of the Council of Foreign and Defence Ministers moved the WEU towards becoming the security instrument of a united Europe and, as such, the core of a "cohesive European defence identity," as put by the Hague Platform of October 1987, the authoritative document to emerge from the meetings of the period.

At the time the fundamental peg of European security on which WEU cohesion depended was the existence of the Warsaw Pact. When that disappeared with the end of the Cold War, the WEU was threatened with a second period of dormancy. The rescue attempt involved two things: integrating the WEU more firmly into the process of European integration; and giving it, in this context, greater independence from NATO. An incentive for the latter was provided by the Gulf crisis, during which EU members took individual initiatives and showed their internal differences, while the USA had paid scant heed to the need to consult its European allies. In February 1991, France and Germany presented a joint paper to the members of the EU envisaging that the WEU would act initially as a NATO-EU link; at the end of a five-year period, the EU would gradually take over the functions of the organisation, meaning that the WEU could then function independently of NATO and US control. In June 1991, the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the WEU agreed that European political union implies a genuine security and defence identity (ESDI) and thus greater European responsibility for defence matters. On the other hand, proposals were made, such as by the President of the European Commission, that the EU take over the Article of the WEU Treaty which provides for collective military assistance by the member states to any member which is the object of an armed attack.

In the result, the attempt at independence came to nothing. For while the EU and WEU were thinking of a European security and defence identity which could be (eventually and then only possibly) outside NATO control, NATO thought in terms of an ESDI which was firmly within NATO, in fact a "pillar" of that organisation. Several NATO members who were also in the EU, particularly the UK, the Netherlands and Portugal made known their opposition to any move which might weaken NATO; while the USA made it clear that any such proposal was quite unacceptable. What came to be known as the "Bartholomew telegram" of March 1991, sent by the US Under Secretary of State to European capitals, saying that a European voice within NATO was to be encouraged, but not one outside, was one instance of US opposition. And US Defence Secretary Dick Cheney said two months later that anything done in the European context would be done in a way that strengthens NATO. Altogether, in 1991, any suggestions of European autonomy in defence were met by "the many criticisms and warnings put forward by the administration of President George Bush."30

However, the WEU was brought into a closer relationship with the EU. The TEU provides that the WEU is "an integral part of the development of the Union"; and the Amsterdam Treaty goes further to specify that the Union will avail itself of the WEU to elaborate and implement decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications. These pertain under Article J to humanitarian and rescue tasks, peace-keeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making. It also specifies that closer institutional relations shall be fostered between the EU and WEU "with a view to the possibility of the integration of the WEU into the Union." But since security policy has to be "compatible with the common security and defence policy established within" the framework of NATO, in other words subordinate to it (the USA does not consider its policy as having to be compatible with that of the Europeans), these institutional arrangements did not signify independence.

This effectively brought to an end Europe's bid for a security structure outside US control. It was agreed by late 1991 that NATO would try to adapt its structure to encompass European desires for a distinct security identity, but this would remain firmly within the alliance. Under this umbrella, France and Germany set up a joint defence force, the Eurocorps, in 1992; other members of the WEU joined in later, but it was linked to NATO by an agreement of January 1993. The following year, to give stronger teeth to the concept of a European defence identity it was agreed to establish a Combined Joint Task Forces under NATO to which the WEU would have access; in general, these would be separable, but not separate, a military capability which could be used by either organisation. These measures seem to have mollified the Europeans somewhat for having to remain under US control in security matters, but they had no substance.

In actual operations neither the WEU nor any of the joint forces set up under it can function without NATO assets, particularly in logistics and intelligence. Hence, the assessment that "today, only the US is in a position to deploy large numbers of forces well beyond its borders and operate them there for an extended period. Europeans...must depend heavily on the US in more nearby places like the Balkans."31

Just as the EU's foreign policy has a clear role within overall US foreign policy aims, the WEU has a clear role within US security aims, and that role is to extend security cover to as much of Central and Eastern Europe as possible without risking a strong Russian reaction since Russia has not viewed the WEU as a threat in the same sense as is NATO. As the process of European economic integration goes forward, and as Central and Eastern Europe are brought into it as full participants, so should European security networks be extended. The WEU then becomes the thin end of NATO's wedge, helping to limit the perception of hostility to Russia which must be a concomitant of any NATO expansion. Thus, by May 1994, Associate Partnership status had been given by the WEU to Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and, two years later, to Slovenia.

The Transatlantic Relationship

In summary form the two Transatlatic documents, the most comprehensive to date, provide an insight into the evolution, in the post-Cold War period, of US-EU relations. The first, the Transatlantic Declaration, was agreed in November 1990. Two points in it are noteworthy. First, "the common goals support democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and individual liberty, and promote prosperity and social progress world-wide"; second, the "accelerating process by which the European Community is acquiring its own identity in economic and monetary matters, in foreign policy and in the domain of security." These goals are to be reached by consulting and informing each other on important matters of common interest, thus leaving the Europeans some freedom of action.

Within five years it was realised that the 1990 Declaration did not reflect the needs of the situation; another document, the New Transatlantic Agenda was signed in December 1995 by the USA and the EU. Here the goals of consolidating democracy and free-market economies, of advancing human rights and cooperating on development and humanitarian assistance sound similar; but Europe's independence of action becomes circumscribed. The "indivisibility of transatlantic security" (which the 1990 document had not mentioned) is reaffirmed; the European security and defence identity is placed within the context of NATO, for it will "strengthen the European pillar of the alliance." And there is no general provision for consultation and information; the Agenda details an action plan in four points covering global issues, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Every issue of interest to Europe is there: Turkey, Cyprus, world trade and investment, international crime and terrorism, for these are also of interest to the USA. But those of interest only to the latter, such as Latin America, or nuclear disarmament, are significant for their absence. The New Agenda only provides confirmation that the EU, in its foreign and security policies, had come more tightly into the US embrace.

India-EU Ties

The EU is India's largest trading partner, a much larger aid donor (taking Community and member states bilateral aid together) than any other group or country and, having overtaken the USA in 1994, the largest investor in India. Its economic leverage has always been strong, a fact reflected in the agreement that governs the relationship today. This is a third generation agreement signed in December 1993 which provides in the very first Article for propagation of the structure of values. "Respect for human rights and democratic principles is the basis for the cooperation between the contracting parties and for the provisions of this agreement, and it constitutes an essential element of the agreement." In return, the EU offers preferential trading agreements, cooperation through direct concessional transfers and institutional finance to improve the economic environment in India, and the promotion of investment.

Some months later, in July 1994, given the rapid economic growth of several Asian economies, the European Council adopted a paper "Towards a New Asia Strategy." This aimed at a "proactive European Union policy for East, South-East and South Asia and proposes ways of increasing the Union's economic presence in Asia, furthering the region's stability, promoting economic development... ." The emphasis here is less on propagating a structure of values, more on an equal dialogue in which Asian countries will be increasingly involved in the management of international affairs, including by playing a more active role in multilateral efforts to sustain international peace and security.

This carefully modulated approach was also applied to India, specially during the regular annual Minister level meetings. As a matter of practical policy, questions pertaining to human rights and good governance were raised, but for form's sake, and in general terms. And the new approach was formalised in a paper adopted by the Council in December 1996 called "EU-India Enhanced Partnership" which presents India as "a substantial force in the world, by virtue of its size, cultural heritage and history, whose expanding economy has great potential for investment." The structure of values is not absent, but the emphasis is on pragmatic steps to take the relationship further: removing obstacles to trade; cooperation in a wide range of sectors like transport and the infrastructure, energy, space and information technology; intensification of the political dialogue; and the cultural dimension of the EU-India bilateral relationship.

For India, it would clearly be of advantage to respond more positively to the discernment shown in the new approach; and this can be done by a proactive policy in matters of trade and investment, economic cooperation and aid, but without entertaining any illusions that in a political dialogue we are interacting with an independent force in world politics.



1. Curt Gasteyger, The European Union: Paper Tiger or Modern Power?, World Affairs, vol. 1, no. 4, October-December 1997, pp. 94-108.

2. Toby Helm in The Daily Telegraph, June 19, 1997.

3. The Economist, June 21-27, 1997, p. 53.

4. For a discussion of these problems, see I.P. Khosla, "European Union and the International Order," Strategy Analysis, vol. xx, no. 3, June 1997, pp. 408-416.

5. In general, Council refers to the 15-member Council of Ministers of the EU (there are several, dealing with, inter alia, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Finance), while European Council means the meeting of Heads of State or Government.

6. Figures from Christopher Piening, Global Europe, The European Union in World Affairs (Lynne Riener, 1997), p. 103.

7. In this paragraph, figures for the EU members have been taken. Usually the published figures are for NATO Europe; three members of the EU are outside NATO, and three members of NATO Europe are outside the EU.

8. Hussein Agha, "The Middle East and Europe: the Post-Cold War Climate," in Hugh Miall ed., Redefining Europe, (Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1994), p. 251.

9. Simon Nuttal, "Two Decades of EPC Performance" in Regelsberger, de Tervarent and Wessels eds., Foreign Policy of the European Union, (Boulder, Col: Lynne Riener, 1997), pp. 26-27.

10. An account of the Polish crisis seen from the perspective of EU-US relations is given in Adam Bronstone, European Union-United States Relations; Transatlantic Tensions and the Theory of International Relations, (Macmillan, 1997), pp. 120-172.

11. Kenneth N. Waltz, Man, the State and War, A Theoretical Analysis (New York: Columbia University, 1959).

12. See, for instance, Robert O. Keohane, International Institutions and State Power, Essays in International Relations Theory, (Boulder: Westview, 1989).

13. Piening, n. 6, p. 196.

14. The Barcelona Declaration, see Bulletin of the European Union, 11-95, pp. 136-145.

15. The ACP countries, which comprise 48 from Africa, 16 from the Caribbean and 8 from the Pacific.

16. J. Pinder, cited by Michael Haynes and Katherine Pinnock, "Towards a Deeper and Wider European Union?" in Economic and Political Weekly, vol. XXXIII, no. 8, February 21-28, 1998, p. 417.

17. European Commission spokesman's service, Press Release of November 3, 1995.

18. Under this member states are given weighted votes; the total for the fifteen is 87, and 62 are needed to carry a decision.

19. The sample quotation is from J.M. Roberts, The Penguin History of the World (Penguin Books, 1997), p. 1102.

20. The historian Victor Kiernan quoted in Economic and Political Weekly, n. 16, p. 428.

21. Eric R. Wolf, Europe and the People Without History, (University of California, 1990) p. 5.

22. Rajen Harshe, Twentieth Century Imperialism, (Sage Publications, 1997), p. 177.

23. The Alastair Buchan Memorial Lecture, published in Survival, vol. XXXIII, no. 2, March-April 1991, pp. 99-109.

24. Bulletin of the European Union, 10/97, p. 129.

25. Bulletin of the European Union, 4/97, pp. 132-4.

26. Europe Hebdomadaire, No. 842, p. 4.

27. SIPRI Yearbook, 1995, p. 271-2.

28. n. 17.

29. Speech of Vice Admiral Ulrich Weisser, head of policy planning staff at the German Ministry of Defence, to the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, March 19, 1997.

30. Nicole Gnesotto, "Common European Defence and Transatlantic Relations," Survival, vol. 38, no. 1, Spring 1996, p. 19.

31. Michael O'Hanlon, "Transforming NATO: The Role of European Forces," Survival, vol. 39, no. 3, Autumn 1997, p. 5.