The American Role in Encouraging European Unification
I have written several articles at this point calling for Europe to unite into a single, enormous democratic country but the debate in Europe has drifted back and forth over the issue and Europe’s leadership has been unequal to the task of championing the idea. With Greece’s future attachment to the European project in doubt and the possibility of a disintegration of the Euro-zone, it is now time for Europe’s best ally and largest trading partner, the United States, to act publicly to support the best outcome: a powerful and united democratic Europe.
Getting the European economy moving again is certainly something that also interests the continent’s trading partners. According the US government, “the U.S. economic relationship with the EU is the largest and most complex in the world, generating trade flows of about $3.6 billion a day in 2010 and transatlantic investment is directly responsible for roughly 7.1 million jobs (in the U.S.).” The importance of the EU to US trade combined with the US interest in building a powerful and gigantic democratic ally should make the unity of Europe a core goal of American foreign policy for the beginning of the 21st century. In this time of economic hardship, the European club of democracies is ripe for change.
Once it is decided that it is in the American interest for Europe to have unity instead of division, there are multiple channels of influence that the US can use to ensure a peaceful and speedy unification. One idea is for the US to dangle the prospect of an even more broad European access to the American marketplace. The US could theoretically encourage Europe to unite by offering much more expanded North American trade deal that can include removal of remaining tariffs and regulatory inconsistencies. It would very likely be much easier to reach a single trade deal with Europe as opposed to the complex system of treaties in place now.
Technology and science research, particularly between governments, can see increased cooperation on multiple levels including in education, energy research, space exploration and military technologies. The US can offer development assistance designed to increase economic and cultural integration among EU members and student exchange programs to build stronger trans-Atlantic relationships. From the management of fisheries to criminal justice and regulation of industry, the prospects for cooperation between the US and a united Europe should be used as an incentive for action and sold as one of the best paths to economic growth in the world, particularly for developed economies.
The Obama administration has largely avoided the issue of unification and left Europe’s governments to solve the problem on their own. Granted few of the countries of Europe would be interested in lectures from the US, which has its own unresolved fiscal problems, but the opportunities present in the issue and the undeniable negative effect that the crisis has already had on the US economy make further delay not only a risk for Europe but also for the US and the rest of the world.
On top of this, the continent-wide leaders that the current divided European system has failed to produce has made it necessary, in a time of the greatest historical importance, for the federal representatives of the American people to take action for their own people’s good and for the good of their democratic allies in Europe.
At the very least, it is in the interest of the American people and for democracy as a whole that the US Federal Government press American interests in Europe. It is imperative for the American government to make clear that America is prepared to go to literally unprecedented measures to make this a reality. According to the EU’s website, U.S. and EU investors together owned roughly $2.7 trillion in direct investment in each other’s economy. To fight the skepticism in Europe concerning further integration, there exists no other country that can offer the EU such an enticing and genuinely mutually beneficial arrangement. With cultures and histories already intertwined, the US government in the current period is in a unique historical position to act publicly and successfully to put the issue of European unity to bed forever.