Summer/Fall 2007

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Letter from the Publisher

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Ideological Convergence: A New Way

In the seven years since George W. Bush succeeded Bill Clinton as President, ideological divergence between the United States and the European Union has come to be considered the natural state of Transatlantic affairs. In the U.S., religiosity has been channeled into electoral politics while in Europe secularist ideals have been reinforced by the challenge of Islamicist extremism. Europeans are massively opposed to the death penalty while Americans seem to support it. Psychologically, Europe tends to be on the left – in contrast to a U.S. that seems to be on the right. European voters frequently vote left-of-center governments into office and even European countries with conservative governments are in practice to the left of the U.S. because of their higher degree of concern about issues of social protection.

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EU Summit Sets Blueprint for Improved Decision-Making

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Stefan FroehlichThe political credibility and diplomatic prospects of the European Union have distinctly improved with the emergence of a new leading troika in Europe: Prime Minister Gordon Brown, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel, the longest-serving of the three.

This outlook was confirmed by the result of the EU summit ending a crucial six-month German presidency. It was her first such stint. Her leadership, with a somewhat unexpected degree of help from France’s Sarkozy and from Britain’s Brown (who was watching from the wings as Prime Minister Tony Blair attended his last summit meeting) is credited with Germany’s success in a string of international meetings that seemed to narrow gaps among EU states and across the Atlantic. Germany presided over the preparation and conduct of four summits in quick succession in the spring of 2007: the EU’s summits with Russia and with the United States and then, in June, a crucial European Union summit followed by the G-8. The combined outcomes showed that Berlin had navigated deals on a group of complicated and contentious issues and obtained some concrete successes.

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Blair’s Vision for Europe: Economic Modernization Can Save our Societies

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When then-Prime Minister Tony Blair went to the podium of the European Parliament in June 2005, he spoke at one of the darkest hours in the history of the European Union. The assembly was reeling under the shock of seeing the draft Constitution repudiated by voters in France. When Blair finished speaking an hour later, the parliamentarians rose to their feet in applause, galvanized by the British leader’s apparently undimmed enthusiasm for the potential of European unity to help Europeans safeguard their societies. Blair did not disguise his formula for success: governments needed to change and liberalize their economies or else see their societies succumb to extremism as they suffocated under the pressures of globalization.

 

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U.S. Attitudes Evolve About EU Security Ambitions

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When it comes to U.S. thinking about the development of a security policy by the European Union, there are three main schools of thought that can be discerned in the policy community. The spectrum is always present, but dominance has evolved among the three currents. All the Americans concerned with the issue have a grounding in strategy, so they posit U.S. interests as a starting point for their evaluation of European objectives.

The first group can be called “the skeptics,” who dismiss or belittle the development of an EU security policy. They argue that security issues remain in the hands of national policy- makers and insist that European states are unlikely to concede sovereignty on these issues any time soon. The skeptics point to the widely divergent views of Europeans on the big strategic dossiers, notably the future course of a European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP).

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Kurt Volker: U.S. and EU Must Not Get Distracted from Agenda

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Kurt VolkerFor the Bush administration's remaining 18 months in office, the State Department has a short list of main concerns for the region. They are the end state of Kosovo; relations with Russia, particularly concerning energy and security; and moves to stabilize Afghanistan. Volker analyzes this list through the prism of relations with Europe.

The State Department's European affairs bureau has publicly set itself three main current ambitions: settlement in Kosovo, stability in Afghanistan, status-quo with Russia. In practice, none of these goals seems likely to be reached on the schedule Washington had hoped for.

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