European Union and the International Order

-I.P. Khosla, former Secretary to Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India



Appearances suggest the early emergence of a United Europe as an independent entity in international affairs. A politically sovereign and economically powerful Europe could, in this view, become a reality by the first decade of the new millenium; as compared to the US its population would be one-third larger, its national income as large, and its international economic and financial power greater. If this translates into political strength, Europe could play a balancing role on the global political and strategic stage. That the world of the 21st century becomes genuinely multipolar is in considerable measure dependent on the extent to which Europe can develop a distinct identity in foreign and security policy, and on whether by so doing it can help to break the current unipolar structure of global politics.

The suggestion is strengthened by the seemingly accelerated progress towards ever closer union1 since the Maastricht Treaty on European Union of February 1992, the most recent stride forward in consolidating past gains and framing future plans for the purpose; and by current plans for widening and deepening the process. On March 29, 1996, another Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) of the 15 European Union (EU) member states opened in Turin. The IGC is to review the Maastricht Treaty and to agree, at a concluding summit of June 1997 at Amsterdam, on broad institutional and functional changes so as to take unity another long step ahead. There is also an urgent desire by the states of East Europe to enter the EU, and it has been decided to accede to this wherever possible, leading to the possibility that there may eventually be up to 28 members; and if closer integration is to proceed alongside, detailed plans are needed to ensure that this "widening" does not happen at the expense of "deepening."

Meanwhile, within the European Commission (EC) at Brussels, at the frequent meetings of the Council of Ministers, as well as during the six-monthly European summits and the many other (such as bilateral and trilateral) summits and lower level meetings there has been extensive discussion on the proposed Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The introduction of a single currency (the Euro) is the beginning of the final stage towards that goal; and the Maastricht Treaty set a date for the single currency, which has not been changed, so this issue is not on the IGC agenda. But the date, January 1, 1999, is less than two years away, and several member states are taking stern economic measures to meet it. For sovereign states to abandon their own currencies, and simultaneously to relinquish control over a wide range of their monetary and even financial powers to a centralised European bank, is a fundamental political decision in favour of integration, and strengthens the presumption of Europe's early emergence as an independent political entity.

India's policy is based on Europe developing a distinct profile, on the vision of a multipolar world in which it "plays an important role in the emerging world order."2 India's defence ties and growing political interaction with the EU, the conclusion of a third-generation Indo-European Community Cooperation Agreement for Partnership and Development in December 1993, and the location of common values such as the belief in democracy and individual liberties, are based in large part on this vision. It is necessary to assess, as the EU gathers itself for another jump towards integration, whether this basis is sound.

A Republic of Europe?

European statesmen agreed after 1945 that a continent destroyed by war twice in one generation needed practical measures to ensure long-term peace; and that meant, most urgently, a durable peace between France and Germany. There was also the problem of an expanded and apparently threatening Soviet Union, and a USA which appeared unreliable, which might turn its back on Europe as it had done after 1919. The solution to these problems lay in European unity, based on Europe's unifying culture and civilisation, on an idea shaped by ethnicity, history, a common religion and inheritance.

The emphasis over the years has been on eventual political, not simply economic unity. Thus, in 1963, delivering the Azad Memorial lecture in Delhi, the first President of the EC, Walter Hallstein, talked of the European Community as a "sovereign democratic Republic," in many respects resembling the India of a Union of States. The Community, he said, was more like a government building than a common market, and "the logic of economic integration not only leads on towards the fusion of interests, but also implies within itself political unity." A quarter of a century later, President of the EC Jacques Delors, another active European federalist, voiced the same sentiments, that economic and monetary union is placed "at the cross-roads of economic integration and political union...well beyond the Community there is a European blueprint for a society based on the principles of pluralism, democracy and the rule of law," and, on another occasion, that "a single currency is the symbol of political Europe." And Wolfgang Schauble, leader of the ruling parliamentary party in Germany, author of a widely discussed document calling for multi-speed integration said, "Economic and monetary union is a huge step on the way to political union. And the next advances must come in the fields of internal security, common foreign and security policy, and institutional reform."3

But there was less agreement on how this was to be achieved.

The Golden Age of Unity

Till 1957 the efforts of European leaders concentrated on quickly putting together a United States of Europe, a political federation in which power was vested in a single supranational authority. They propagated that this was the only alternative to war in a continent racked by violence over the centuries; and derived inspiration from proposals made before World War II such as the 1929 speech by Foreign Minister Aristide Briand of France to the League of Nations Assembly, inviting the Europeans there to set up a Union of Europe; or the earlier Pan-European Union organised by a Congress held at Vienna in 1926.

The post-War moves were stronger, bringing together the United Europe movements in France and the UK, the Dutch European Union of Federalists, and others who met at a Congress of Europe in 1948. In the opening address, Winston Churchill, who talked repeatedly about the desirability of a United States of Europe, said, "We cannot aim at anything less than the union of Europe as a whole," and emphasised that this must be done quickly to avert the danger of war.

A second option was to go forward incrementally and more slowly, rather than in a few rapid steps, towards a federation under a supranational authority. Under this variant, sectors of national activity, starting with the economic, were to be taken out of the jurisdiction of national governments and placed under a fully empowered supranational body. And this was at the outset implemented for steel and coal, in the belief that the best way to ensure a peaceful Germany was to keep its economy, specifically areas most directly concerned with the armaments industry, under supranational control. In April 1951 (under the Schuman Plan), a European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was created by a treaty among France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries. A High Authority was established which would pool and control all the national coal and steel industries so that, in effect, none of the participants could run a separate armaments industry. If successful, as it was the outset, the ECSC concept would be expanded to other, at first economic, and then political sectors.

More important, the ECSC had a broader long-term purpose, spelt out by French Foreign Minister Schuman in May 1950 while proposing the plan. "By pooling basic production and by creating a new high authority whose decisions will be binding on France, Germany and the other countries...this proposal will create the first concrete foundation for a European Federation which is so indispensable for the preservation of peace."

Years later, to counter the growing passivity of many, and hostility by a few, European integration was still being projected as the alternative to war, as by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who said it was the only reliable safeguard against "nationalism, power politics, and war."4 Even in the 1990s, integration by the federalist variant meant tying Germany down, preventing the possible resurgence of recent history, and the German leaders wanted this as much as any in France or elsewhere in Europe.

Increased prosperity, the growing strength of nationalism, and the related reluctance of governments to relinquish their power or authority, brought incremental progress towards a federation to a stop with the ECSC; in its supranational High Authority which best epitomised federalism, differences arose with the Council of Ministers leading to an attenuation of the powers and competence of the former.

By 1967 it had been merged with the European Economic Community (EEC), which developed along a third option (see below), integration by incremental steps, but by inter-governmentalism.

Meanwhile the first option, rapidly moving to union, almost succeeded. Under the Pleven Plan, named after the French Prime Minister who proposed it, a European Defence Community (EDC) was to be created with a European Army, federal political institutions, possibly a bicameral European legislature with the power to levy taxes, and the authority to administer a common defence budget, and oversee economic matters. In May 1952, the EDC Treaty was signed by the Benelux countries, France, Germany and Italy. In 1953, a draft plan for a European Political Community to complete the political and economic aspects of the federation was submitted to the respective governments. Though it looks impossibly far away today, the aim of a United States of Europe was almost, at that time, achieved. Five of the six national Parliaments ratified the Pleven Plan but in August 1954, the French Parliament rejected it, and in effect killed it.

Federalists continue to look at the early 1950s as the golden age, an opportunity which needs to be recreated, and this time not missed. This is propagated specifically at the periodic meetings of the Council of Europe, established at the initiative of the Congress of Europe. It is a factor in the widespread belief that the goal of European political unity could be within sight, though few believe in the 1990s that Europe can move to unity in two or three easy steps, or that such unity can be as comprehensive as planned in the 1950s.

Practical Steps: The Rome Treaty

In March 1957, the six partners in the ECSC met in Rome to sign a treaty setting up the EEC; this provided for the elimination of internal tariffs, the establishment of a single external tariff within twelve to fifteen years, the elimination of quotas, the mobility of labour and capital and the establishment of a common market. The EEC, and the concurrently signed Euratom for cooperation in the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes were both clearly inter-governmental.

In the incremental implementation of the goal of European union, this third option has in practice been dominant. The concept is that governments will meet, discuss and agree to take successive measures to remove restraints on economic relations within the region; in other words, that they will progressively allow the operation of market forces in the movement of goods, then business and capital, and then people. At each stage it is the governments, not a supranational authority, which take decisions. The operation of the market place replaces that of a supranational authority.

But the goal of political union is not forgotten, for the liberalisation of economic activity is to be accompanied by incremental progress towards political union, through harmonised and then common foreign and security policies. Increasing powers for the European Parliament at the expense of the national Parliaments, and a similar transfer at the executive level, could lead eventually through a unified foreign policy to a single armed force and defence profile, and a unified nuclear policy; in other words, a federal union.

No progress has been made in realising this last concept, for the manner in which the motivational force of the market place would bring politics, foreign policy and security matters to unify, or how inter-governmentalism would give place to the federalism needed for decisions in these areas, was left unclear. In any case, the immediate trend was not in favour of the gradual or rapid conversion of inter-governmentalism to any form of federalism, nor even of the extension of inter-governmentalism to new areas. For in 1958, de Gaulle came to power in France, and soon made clear his preference for a Europe des Parties, a form of cooperation between governments which ruled out the federalist variant.

De Gaulle's aim of creating in France a resurgent, influential and independent centre of power ran counter to what he thought was the EC's thesis of a European superstate; to believe that European nations would cease to be themselves and form a single entity was, he said, to plumb the "depths of illusion and prejudice." That the US supported political unity also condemned the idea, for this represented, in his words, "the hegemony known as Atlantic solidarity."5 Growing nationalist feeling across Europe, combined with prosperity as a result of the 1960s boom, also put the federalist unity of Europe onto the back burner. The Luxembourg compromise of 1966, under which important decisions would be taken by consensus, reinforced this; and the admission of the UK, Denmark and Ireland in 1973, further strengthened inter-governmentalism, since the UK took the lead in opposing any form of federalism, and found supporters among the new entrants.

That for 20 years after 1966 Europe made little progress even towards economic integration6 had another, more basic, reason. This was a change in the very nature of economic activity resulting from the steep increase in oil prices in 1973 and 1979 and the partly consequent technological advances, which took the fastest growing sectors into low energy consuming, low employment generating, high technology industries like electronics and communications. Keynesianism collapsed. Pumping money into a depressed economy merely led to stagflation, for productivity became increasingly responsive to technological advances at the expense of expansion in the workforce. Protectionism was the instinctive reaction of governments; the trend after 1973 was towards more trade barriers, not less. And it was not till the 1980s that the new right brought in a wholly different economic philosophy by the name of monetarism or supply side economics, and created the ground for breaking out of the crisis. The traditional fear of high unemployment disappeared, and was replaced by a fear of slow growth, of inflation and of outdated technology.

Towards Europe Inc

In the early 1980s, the major European corporations became aware that their share of world markets was declining, particularly in industries like electronics and communications where demand was rising fast; textiles and clothing, leather and footware, however, were doing well. Europe might in a few decades turn into a middle-income developing area. Led by the Roundtable of European Industrialists (comprising the heads of several of Europe's largest multinational corporations), and actively assisted by the EC, they lobbied in the national capitals for more rapid moves towards a unified market in the EEC which would justify the large investments required in high technology industries. The Commission then produced, in 1985, a White Paper detailing the 300 measures still pending implementation under the Treaty of Rome; the members negotiated advantages in one against disadvantages in another, and by 1986 it had been agreed in terms of the Single European Act (SEA) that the single market outlined at Rome would come into existence by the end of 1992. And this agreement was implemented.

In appearance, the pace had changed from the stalled incrementalism of pre-1986 to rapid strides towards integration, which should augur well for political unity; but in fact the SEA was a decisive move away from political unity. It delinked economic integration from political unity, and focussed sharply on the former. The results were seen in the Maastricht Treaty on European Union (TEU) of February 1992. The TEU singled out Economic and Monetary Union for detailed attention, and pinpointed the achievement of a single currency as the beginning of the third or last stage in getting to a completely unified market. It spelt out convergence criteria, a timetable, and the institutions to implement the single currency decision. But on political unity it expressed only hope.

Corporate Europe had now become the driving force of integration, and political integration got detached from it and stalled. Federalism did replace inter-governmentalism to the limited extent that the economic powers of the EC were increased, but in the political and security areas inter-governmentalism became stronger, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP--see below) being a good example. Some even detected tendencies among the member states to re-assert their authority over matters assigned to the EC.

Doubts and Disagreement

The new economic philosophy was also a factor in the exacerbation of social, regional and political tensions in Europe which make it less and less likely that further political unity can be realised in a few decades, despite the undoubted achievements of the economic integration programme.

The decision to embed integration in a corporate driven economic philosophy led to a series of mergers and acquisitions by the major companies as they strove to bring their technology up to modern standards with the whole of Europe as their market. The resultant functional fusion, and focus on core business added to unemployment rates that were already high. By 1996, unemployment Europe-wide was running close to 12 per cent, compared to 11.5 per cent in the worst depression years of the 1930s. This figure does not fully reflect the picture because further unemployment was concealed by part-time work. Added to the cut back in social security this meant a general increase in the percentage of the poor; European cities developed an urban under class which was close to or below the poverty line, people without homes or jobs, beggers who went hungry. Governments adopted a "hands off" policy; there was no attempt to influence technological development in a socially desirable direction from the income and employment distribution viewpoint.

This social tension was added to regional tension caused by increasing disparities as prosperous areas like Baden-Wurttemberg in south-western Germany, Spanish Catalonia, the French Rhone-Alpes, and northern Italy came to believe their growth and wealth would be jeopardised by the demands of the poor regions. The creation under the TEU of a Council of Regions and the operation of a Regional Fund to reduce disparities underline the reality of this problem; which is compounded by the separatist demands of, for instance, Scotland or the Flemish part of Belgium. Regionalism more generally arose from a series of developments which can be generically subsumed under the term globalisation, or, in the case of Europe, mini-globalisation. As the member states surrendered or appeared ready to surrender their authority to a new centre, the resultant stresses on allegiance stimulated the growth of narrower, sub-national loyalties; the demand was for devolution, not the transfer of power to a more centralised authority. Regionalism will, therefore, grow with, and be a constant obstacle to, increased integration.

The political tensions arose partly from the growth of right wing, nationalist and anti-integration movements in several of the member states. In Germany the self-assertive new right includes conservative journalists, writers, lawyers and businessmen who claim the anti-fascist movement reduced the Bonn Republic to a self-critical and supine force. They want a Berlin Republic and an assertive German nationalism free of the restraints tying it to the West, able to normalise the Nazi past, to depict Hitler as a social moderniser, to say no to American style multiculturalism. They denounce European integration, and are against the allocation of any part of increasing German power to European institutions. In Italy a growing group of neo-nationalist believe the post-War years have seen the "death of the homeland," meaning an Italy unable to assert its national interest in a world where competition for space and the creation of zones of influence has resumed. In France, the right wing, anti-integration National Front led by Jean Marie Le Pen is growing in popularity. And, as another example, the December 1995 Austrian national election saw 22 per cent of the vote go to the anti-integration rightist Jorg Haider.

Overall there has been rising popular disillusionment with the idea of a united Europe, reflected in the bare majority which approved the TEU in France; its initial defeat in a referendum in Denmark,7 and popular doubts stemming from the democratic deficit--the fact that the European Parliament, the only elected body among the EU institutions, has virtually no power, which is concentrated in the Council and, (for economic matters) the Commission. The impression that European institutions are elite-run is strengthened by the growing size of the bureaucracy at the EC headquarters, its large budget, and its paperwork (several thousand directives are issued every year, most of which are considered incomprehensible). The fact that it has often been the motor for moving integration forward is less appreciated.

Finally, there is little prospect now that there can be a smooth transition even to an economically integrated Europe. There is disagreement among the governments of the fifteen member states about what integration means. Certain governments have opted out of some of the provisions of the TEU altogether (integration by variable geometry); and some have indicated that they wish to adhere to some of the provisions at a later date than others (multispeed integration). While signing the TEU, the UK opted out of the Social Agreement covering working conditions, while the UK and Denmark have escape clauses from the EMU. The latter had to be offered this as well as exemptions from the common defence as the price for getting a "yes" in the second referendum. Others like Sweden find the EMU so unpopular among their people that they have decided not to join early even if they meet the convergence criteria by 1998. The idea of Europe a la carte, with members opting in and out of the integration process thus grew.8 The implementation of a single currency and EMU will formalise the two or more types of European integration, for not all 15 member states will be able to participate at the date of launch. Indeed, variable geometry and multispeed integration are inherent in the decision to admit new members at an early date. Cyprus and Malta have been promised early negotiations, while the Visegrad9 countries, which signed "Europe agreements" with the EC in December 1991, are likely to be next in line, followed by other East Europeans, taking total membership possibly to over two dozen by the year 2010. It is quite clear that each of the new entrants will seek to opt out of some of the provisions of the TEU, and that all of them will integrate at a slow speed. Hence, the comment that "The likelihood that the European Union can fulfil its own promises of ever-closer union, while remaining open to new members on the same terms, is slim indeed."10

Apart from the fact that political integration has been delinked from the economic programme, therefore, even full economic integration, the basis of the effort to develop a distinct European identity, is likely to face serious problems in the coming years.

CFSP--Foreign Policy Intentions

The indispensable precondition for a Europe that can play an independent and balancing role in international affairs is a foreign and security policy that is harmoniously coordinated, or better common, or better still, unified. The goals should include a single institutional framework to develop foreign policy options, a hierarchical or majority vote decision making body, a machinery for implementation, and one voice for foreign policy pronouncements. Till date, even harmonious coordination has not been achieved, none of the other goals are in sight or even under contemplation. The current system is little more than diplomatic consultation; change in the foreseeable future is unlikely.

The 1951 ECSC did not cover this, nor the Treaty of Rome of 1957. But at a summit of the six in 1969, there was a call for "a united Europe capable of assuming its responsibilities in the world...of making a contribution commensurate with its tradition and mission." And this was made operational in the following year through European Political Cooperation (EPC), regular Foreign Minister level meetings where decisions were taken by consensus, with no voting. The EPC was brought within the treaty framework under the SEA, which highlighted in the preample the "responsibility incumbent upon Europe to aim at speaking ever increasingly with one voice and to act...more effectively to protect its common interests and independence...make their own contribution to the preservation of international peace and security," and went on in Title III to bind member states "to inform and consult each other in advance on any foreign policy matter of general interest"; and in Article 30 to "endeavour jointly to formulate and implement a European foreign policy."

The EPC continued till 1992 when, with the signing of the TEU, it was replaced by the CFSP. The TEU, in its own words, marked "a new stage in the process of creating an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe", and the provisions on foreign and security policy were correspondingly more elaborate. Title V provides, "The Union and its member states shall define and implement a common foreign and security policy...covering all areas of foreign and security policy." The objectives of this shall be "to safeguard the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the Union," and "to strengthen the security of the Union and its member states in all ways." There is also a cautionary clause: that the member states "shall support the Union's external and security policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity. They shall refrain from any action which is contrary to the interest of the Union or likely to impair its effectiveness as a cohesive force in international relations."

Over the years it appears, on a reading of the texts, that a common or even perhaps unified foreign and security policy should be in evolution. In fact, the opposite happened. With the inter-governmentalism of the Treaty of Rome power shifted to the Council to Ministers, and the slide continued; the Council set up its own Committee of Permanent Representatives who were to represent the interests of the member states in foreign policy and security matters; and after the TEU, a Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials (again representing member states) was also set up, further reducing the Commission's role.

Apart from deconstructing the meaning of European integration, the TEU shifted the ground away from the possibility of a common foreign policy in a more basic way. It built three pillars: economic, being the achievement of EMU, which was specified in detail with actions to be taken by member states according to a timebound programme, and which was under the jurisdiction of the Commission and the Council; the CFSP, the second pillar, which outlined only vague objectives (in comparison), and was outside the jurisdiction of the Commission and the European Court of Justice--it was, in fact, specifically inter-governmental; the third being Justice and Home Affairs, run on the same basis as the CFSP. This formalised the separation of economic from political and defence integration; there was no attempt to link the two; and the theory that one would lead in a smooth transition to the other was, in effect, abandoned.

CFSP--Foreign Policy Reality

The practical results were not entirely negative. During the negotiations in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which led up to the 1975 Helsinki Final Act there was close coordination within the EPC. When, in the 1980 Venice Declaration the EPC recognised the special position of Palestine and the rights of her people there seems even to have been an effort to distantiate the US position. This effort continued in the 1980s. In Central America, US support for what many in Europe thought was a repressive regime in El Salvador, or its attempts to overthrow the left wing government in Nicaragua did not get EC backing, and the latter tried to launch its own dialogue with Central American states. In 1986, several EC members disapproved of the US bombing of Libya. But in all these cases the EU was a minor player; the US held the main role.

The general picture is of a lack of coordination, disunity, and even clashing interests, making the CFSP into a name without substance. In the run-up to the Gulf war, disunity among the EU members was apparent. The British, without consulting the others, promised to join the US military action; the French tried unilateral diplomacy; Germany took refuge in a constitutional ban on sending troops outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) area; the Irish talked of neutrality.

When Soviet control over East Europe collapsed it seemed the ideal opportunity for the EU to take the lead in responding; which it did, in a way, by launching programmes for assistance to the East European and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), was set up to channel investment to that region. But most of the programme assistance was spent on consultancy work and identifying projects, much of the rest went into the pockets of the new entrepreneurs of the region; while the EBRD spent more on its buildings and administration than on loans to investors. And when it came to policy, such as towards agreement on allowing eventual membership of the EU to Eastern European states, it did not come till the 1993 Copenhagen summit.

The declaration of independence by Slovenia and Croatia in June 1991 brought the biggest test so far of the CFSP (then still EPC). The EU had vital interests in former Yugoslavia. It was a neighbour and really a part of Europe, in many ways more Western than Eastern; it was, as its constituent parts later were accepted to be, a potential member of the EU; half its trade was with the EU; ethnic conflict there could spread through the Balkans and into Europe, specially through the influx of refugees, which influx in fact took place, and caused problems, specially for Germany and Italy. Islamic resentment at Europe's inability to protect the Bosnian Muslims could create domestic problems for those members with substantial Islamic minorities. But the application of CFSP to this problem proved disastrous.

The Troika undertook a mission to Yugoslavia which seemed be successful; fighting in Slovenia, which had broken out after the declaration of independence, was brought to an end by white uniformed Community peace monitors. And Jacques Poos of Luxembourg, then President of the Council, was moved to declare, "This is the hour of Europe, not the hour of the Americans."

But Germany was pushing for the recognition of Slovenia and Croatia, the first because a zone of influence there would make for easy access to the Adriatic Sea through Austria, the second because of wartime memories of Croatian support against the Serbs; while France wanted to support Serbia, again for reasons dating back to the war. The autumn 1991 meeting of the Council in Milan called for the "preservation of the unity and territorial integrity" of Yugoslavia, and Germany continued pushing thereafter for recognition, meaning the destruction of that unity, finally threatening unilateral action to get its way in January 1992.

There was a chain reaction, with Bosnia organising a referendum for independence which was overwhelmingly approved, and Macedonia declaring independence also. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was now dead, and with it the possibility for any successful action through the CFSP, though in theory this should now have been easier, since with recognition intervention of any kind was not an interference in internal affairs. EU mediators went back and forth, negotiated repeated ceasefires which were repeatedly broken, during which time the battle lines were deciding the frontiers of the components of former Yugoslavia. Within the EU, effective action was further hampered by disagreements about how the ceasefires were to be handled, about military intervention, about sanctions and humanitarian aid. President Mitterand airdashed to Sarajevo in June 1992 without consulting his EU colleagues; Greek pressure prevented recognition of Macedonia despite the others' view that this recognition was justified. The impression grew that EU members were continuously negotiating among themselves; that no action could be expected.

By late 1992, the EU accepted that it was helpless. Matters passed into the hands of the UN, and thence to the US and NATO.

Three kinds of factors account for the failure of the CFSP: domestic; institutional; and geo-political. Domestically, there is disillusionment with the idea of European unity caused by social and political tensions and the rise of regionalism. Added to the feeling that an effective CFSP will put the fate of their foreign and security policy into the hands of remote bureaucrats in Brussels, this has made member states reluctant to give up national interests for the sake of a unified European stand. Institutionally, the principles of inter-governmentalism and consensus decision-making ensure that wherever there is disagreement, no decisions are taken; that instruments for the CFSP are not available since several states, particularly those which are constitutionally neutral, do not wish to provide them; and that at Council meetings the lowest common denominator, usually a bland statement on the issue at hand, is the most that can be achieved.

Most important in the long run, there has been a change in the geo-politics of Europe since the disappearance of a threat from the East. Commitment to a common foreign policy seems no longer to be required, and the consequence has been renationalisation, a reassertion of specific national interests as was apparent in the German stand on Slovenia and Croatia, or the Greek stand on the recognition of Macedonia; in both cases the national interests of one member held up a united policy. It will be difficult to merge the very varying foreign policy interests of the members, based on tradition, history and their recent experience, into a single CFSP in the foreseeable future.

CFSP--Security Policy

A reading of the texts also suggests that a common security policy should be in the process of evolution.

Title III of the SEA said, "The High Contracting Parties consider that closer cooperation on questions of European security would contribute in an essential way to the development of a European identity in external policy matters."

Title V of the Maastricht Treaty on European Union went further in specifying: "The common foreign and security policy shall include all questions relating to the security of the Union...including the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence."

At meetings of the Council as well as bilateral meetings, both France and Germany emphasised thereafter their keenness to translate these hopes rapidly into what was variously described as a "common security and defence concept," a "European security and defence identity," or, less enthusiastically, as a European dimension or pillar within NATO. The ultimate hope was to proceed to "a new balance in transatlatic relations by progressively bringing Europe's political capacity in line with her economic capacity and, in a second stage, by bringing her military capacity in line with her political will."11

The instrument selected to achieve this was the Western European Union (WEU), originally a 50-year treaty for collaboration in economic, social and cultural matters and for collective self-defence signed in March 1948 between the Benelux countries, France and the UK, who were joined in 1954 by Germany and Italy. Greece, Portugal and Spain have also adhered since then; there are five neutral observers,12 and others, mainly East Europeans who are associates or partners. The TEU contains a request from the Union to the WEU, which is "an integral part of the development of the Union, to elaborate and implement decisions and actions of the Union which have defence implications."

The WEU did conduct certain operations related to the Yugoslav crisis, including a naval patrol in the Otranto Straits in 1992, and stop-and search operations in the Adriatic Sea, but these were independent in name only; in each case NATO, led by the US was calling the shots.

By May 1996, discussions were under way about plans for Europe to conduct peace-keeping operations independently of NATO; and at the June 1996 NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Berlin it was agreed to endorse the idea of a "European Security and Defence Identity," to establish a new military command structure for the purpose, and that the European members of NATO would mount humanitarian and peace-keeping operations independently of the US through the new structure. France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands had already started experimenting with Joint Task Forces, units from than one state operating under a joint command, and this was to be the beginning of the structure. The French Foreign Minister said at the time, "For the first time in alliance history, Europe will really be able to express its personality."

The likelihood that Europe will be able to develop an independent defence posture is, for three reasons, remote. First, an independent defence posture requires an independent foreign policy which, as indicated above, Europe has not got; indeed, it is moving further away from the possibility of real independence in this area.

Second, the WEU, the chosen instrument for a European defence identity, has only political significance; it is a statement that Europeans do not look on defence in purely national terms. It is not a military instrument that can be used independently in the field, not even an alliance. It can be projected at most, therefore, as an adjunct of NATO, perhaps even as its European pillar, operating in the field through joint task forces whose command and control procedures will be nominally independent. But with the planned expansion of the EU, the difficulties will grow, for the new members from East Europe would find it difficult to accept some of the positions of West Europe.

Third, and most important, since the currency of power continues to be and will remain, the possession of an effective nuclear force, the WEU has no nuclear doctrine. The British deterrent is assigned to NATO, and, therefore, effectively under US control, while the French force de frappe remains outside any alliance and seems unlikely to be brought within one. The development of a European nuclear doctrine independent of the US and the prediction of Kenneth Waltz13 will thus remain unrealised.

IGC and the Future

The Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) was to have strengthened the CFSP by reaching agreement on mechanisms for joint decisions, which would replace the ad hoc decisions of today; on implementing joint policy; and on proceeding when there was lack of unanimity. It was also to define the role of the WEU more clearly, particularly because that treaty is due for renewal at the end of the initial 50-year period in 1998. Reports so far indicate little progress on these key issues for the development of a European identity.

The first several months of the IGC were taken up with British protests about the rest of the EU banning their beef; and the attention of EU leaders was then focussed on the price to be paid by those who entered the single currency and thereafter violated the convergence criteria. There is a recognition now that the CFSP will continue to be inter-governmental: the commitment to accept new members soon to meet a political imperative, the democratic deficit and the problems of ratification, the urgency of agreeing on a framework for a two (or more) speed Europe, and above all the difficulty of getting the people of Europe to think of themselves as Europeans rather than citizens of particular nations means that federalist ambitions have to be postponed to an indefinite future.

Europe can develop an identity to the extent that, in nuclear or other security and foreign policy matters, it acquires independence of the US.

At one level, trans-Atlantic relations have been based on the common heritage and civilisation of the peoples of Europe and the US; faith in values like human dignity, intellectual freedom and civil liberties; and a commitment to democratic institutions and the rule of law. At another level, there is the joint effort to safeguard peace and promote international security to oppose aggression and coercion, to settle conflicts and to reinforce the role of the UN. At the most important level, when foreign and security policy involves actions rather than declarations, it is the leadership of the US which holds the key, as was seen in the case in the Gulf, or former Yugoslavia.

Despite the fact that on economic matters the EU acts independently, on important foreign policy issues it has continued to accept the US lead. And this applies even more to security and defence matters. France, the only EU member to have attempted the establishment of an independent policy, has gradually come back into the fold of NATO. In January 1994, the US supported two French ideas: the establishment of a European Security and Defence Identity, and the strengthening of the European pillar of NATO through the WEU. Partly in response, the French decided to participate in NATO's Military Committee, the French Defence Minister started taking part in the work of the Alliance, and then, for the first time since 1996, French forces came under NATO command in Yugoslavia.

The trend is away from the evolution of European independence in these matters, and towards the embedding of Europe's identity in the wider context of US leadership. As Jacques Chirac, who was then not the French President, said in early 1993, "With respect to Europe, we are forced to note that the substantial reduction in the American military presence has not stimulated any decisive European process, far from it. Several of our partners have even begun considerably to reduce their armed forces and are placing themselves more than ever under America's protection, incarnated through NATO."14 Thirty years after de Gaulle, the French seem ready to accept the hegemony known as Atlantic solidarity.

There is no question, therefore, of a European role in security and defence matters, or even, now, a French role which could be the embryo of an independent identity. Europe will continue to depend on US leadership in matters of importance, and will give full support to the latter where required.

The year 2010 is likely to see, therefore, the European Union as an economic giant, but one which accepts the leadership of the US in political and security matters.

India's Policy

There is little doubt that India's policy needs to be based on a continued intensification of the dialogue with the EU on political matters, the growth and diversification of economic relations, and strengthening exchanges in other areas like defence.

It is necessary, however, to ensure that our policies are not out of tune with the reality of European integration, and there are three aspects to this, all equally important.

The first, since the economics of Europe has definitively separated from its foreign and security policy, is that it would be advantageous for India to focus on the diversification and strengthening of economic relations more than on other areas. This is not an easy task, since of our total exports 28 per cent go to the EU, while the corresponding figure for imports is almost 30 per cent. On the other hand, for the EU, India accounts for only some 0.4 per cent of trade. India is far more heavily dependent on the EU than the reverse, a fact reinforced by the fairly generous development assistance programme of the EU in India. Over the last few years, this leverage has been used by the EU to push for more rapid liberalisation, specially, in certain sectors like the service industries.

More importantly, it has been used to put forward views regarding the solution of problems with our neighbours, particularly Pakistan; and on issues such as human rights. Points about recommencing the political process in Jammu and Kashmir had been a regular feature of India's dialogues with the EU until that process actually got under way, while suggestions about re-opening a dialogue with Pakistan are also part of these exchanges. As for human rights, this issue has been incorporated into the third generation agreement of December 1993.

Hence, secondly, India has to pursue with renewed vigour the effort to separate economic from non-economic matters in dealing and negotiating with the EU. Views which the latter may have on Jammu and Kashmir, on a dialogue with Pakistan, on defence and security matters like the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or the Missile Technology Control Regime need to be discussed quite separately from improved access to the EU market, or boosting investment in India, or expanding India's economic presence in Europe.

Thirdly, the continued importance of bilateral ties with the countries of Europe cannot be overstressed. Furthering our interests in non-economic matters will require stronger bilateral relations with the largest member states in particular.



1. The phrase was first used in the Treaty of Rome, 1957, then repeated in the Maastricht Treaty.

2. See the report in Foreign Affairs Record, vol. XXXIX, no. 12, December 1993, and vol. XL, no. 2, February 1994, issued by the External Publicity Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, for the Joint Statement on Political Dialogue issued on December 20, 1993, and the meeting between the Indian External Affairs Minister and the Troika (the past, current and next President of the EU Council).

3. For this and several other remarks by European (particularly German) leaders that Economic and Monetary Union (which is incorrectly called European Monetary Union) will lead to political union, see Newsweek, February 3, 1997.

4. Newsweek, Ibid., p. 24.

5. Charles de Gaulle, Memoirs of Hope: Renewal and Endeavour (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971).

6. By the early 1980s, it was often remarked that Europe suffered from "Eurosclerosis".

7. This was followed by the collapse of the ERM (exchange rate mechanism) in September 1992, leading to articles about the imminent disintegration of Europe. Cf. George Soros in Foreign Affairs, September-October 1996, p. 14.

8. Allan M. Williams, The European Community, (Blackwell, 1994), p. 141.

9. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Rumania and Bulgaria signed in 1993.

10. Tony Judt, "Europe: The Grand Illusion," New Quest, September-October 1996.

11. Jolyon Howorth, "Towards a European Foreign and Security Policy?", in Jack Hayward and Edward C. Page, eds., Governing the New Europe, Polity Press, 1995), p. 331.

12. Austria, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden. This brings the members and observers of the WEU to be the same as the member states of the EU.

13. In "The Emerging Structure of International Politics," International Security, vol. 18, no. 2, Fall 1993, Waltz wrote that in Europe "The achievement of unity would produce an instant great power, complete with second strike nuclear forces," p. 69.

14. Quoted in Robert P. Grant, "France's New Relationship with NATO," Survival, Spring 1996, p. 63.