The State of US-EU Relations
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to speak to you today on the unfortunately precarious state of affairs between the United States and Europe. As you all know, hegemonic power has shifted between European nations for centuries, while the United States did not emerge as such an influential entity until after World War II. Since these post-war reconstructive years, the United States has continued to grow in social, economic, political, and diplomatic strength, thus cementing its role as a major international power. Although Europe came out of the war battered and bruised, it rose up out of the ashes, and surpassed its former glory to start yet another chapter in its historical saga. After Europe got back on its feet, the European Union was created, which is undoubtedly a major modern success story. The US and the EU have achieved high levels of development and stability that have led them to take on both regional and global leadership roles. Representatives from both bodies work side by side in the creation and implementation of policy in organizations such as the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development).
Unfortunately, this rosy picture of harmonious relations is more than a little bit idealistic. To say that there have not been times of tension and strife between the US and the EU would obviously be incorrect. Even to say, that the days of friction and discord are over would be a fallacy, because certain issues continue to put a strain on US-EU relations. In order to detail the “why” for the current state of US-EU relations, I will first talk about how past and present conflicts and failures of policy have been caused by fundamental differences in thought and practice. Secondly, I will discuss the importance of realizing that a nation’s self-interest and the common interest of many nations are by no means mutually exclusive. This may help bridge the Atlantic Rift between the United States and Europe; a separation that does not make us foes, but at the same time, makes it difficult for us to be close friends.
A nation’s history and development drastically affect its current policy and ways of dealing with other nations. Because each nation has a unique history, it makes the complete sharing of methods of response very unlikely. European nations, however, have a unifying advantage to which the United States cannot relate—they share many common historical experiences. Despite the fact that Great Britain, France, and Germany, for example, have not always gotten along well, they have experienced similar phases in their development. This background provides a foundation upon which to build the structure of their international policies. To take one example, sovereignty has always been an issue of great importance in the international community. Perhaps as a result of previous experience, it is less of a struggle to convince European nations to...