- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Last week President Bush was in Brussels, meeting with NATO, the European Council and the European Commission president. Many of the EU elite may not have told Mr. Bush his trip coincided with one of the most pivotal points of U.S. and European relations. This year starts the countdown to many national referendums on the proposed European constitution.

Mr. Bush did not hear at his meetings that, under the choke hold of the constitution, member-states’ sovereignty will be overridden by the EU. European federalism is the antithesis to the American definition. Unlike the protections against a domineering central government afforded to the United States through its framework of federalism, the European Union will be made a superstate by its constitution, removing powers from member states and concentrating many of them in Brussels.

Among other headaches, the EU constitution will create a legal personality, an unelected president, a foreign minister and diplomatic service, a judicial system, recognized external borders, a military capacity and a police force. Under such a regime, trans-Atlantic relations will be dealt a fatal blow.

As a “legal personality” many EU cheerleaders believe the organization should be eligible for a seat in the United Nations — a voice that will no doubt carry strong French and German anti-American overtones. The newly created EU foreign minister will almost certainly not echo the sentiments of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. He or she will undoubtedly more closely resemble French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, who only last fall said relations with the U.S. must be reorganized to better manage disagreements and says Europe is to become a world power that does not exclude the use of force.

Perhaps the most immediate concern to U.S.-Europe relations is the constitution’s impact on NATO. The constitution is peppered with defense-related clauses that together would much increase EU’s legally binding power in security matters — including an EU mutual defense commitment. Armed aggression against one EU member state would demand an instant and unequivocal response. Further, an EU military alliance and common foreign policy would cut across the obligations of the EU’s NATO members, while ending the neutrality of its non-NATO ones. This would put the large number of NATO forces committed to Europe in limbo.

America can also forget about coalitions of the willing or the inroads made by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her recent visit to Europe. The stated view of those attempting to build a European military capacity is to build an alternative to NATO, outside its umbrella. While countries like Great Britain and Poland still provide vital support to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the majority in the European Union does not support the War on Terrorism. Under the EU constitution, member countries will be forbidden from operating an independent foreign policy position. They must “explicitly and unreservedly support the Union’s foreign and security policy.” Undoubtedly, the U.S. will face even more opposition in the United Nations and be left to fight without its historic allies.

Trade will also suffer. Protectionist regulations are inevitable under “a united Europe.” While about 19 percent of America’s trade is with the EU, the majority of that commercial relationship is based with the United Kingdom. Between 1995 and 2003, 64 percent of total U.S. investment in the EU went to the U.K. In terms of total EU investment to the U.S., 62 percent originated in the U.K. What will happen with an increased EU veto over U.S.-U.K. trade agreements?

This is not a friendly proposal. If the constitution is not rejected by one of the EU member states, America will face increasingly difficult and strained relations with Europe. America will lose support for its global peace and security efforts and American companies will be further targeted and regulated out of the European marketplace.

Spain faced its constitutional referendum on Feb. 20. As Spain has about $60 billion in EU subsidies over recent years, it was no surprise it voted “yes” to the new constitution. Meanwhile Portugal, the Netherlands and France are to vote in the spring.

Europe is besieged by the EU’s “Yes” campaign, supported by millions of dollars of propaganda advertising. “Yes” propaganda, among other things, is telling Europeans the constitution will create a “United States of Europe,” but this is by no means a compliment to America. The constitution could be one of the most significant blows to an important history of mutual support and alliances.

The EU constitution is more than a single telephone line to Europe, as once wished by Henry Kissinger. It will be the beginning of one of the greatest rifts in the Western World. America will stand alone.

Martin Callanan is a British Conservative member of the European Parliament.


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