Tuesday, July 1, 2008

In Europe We Trust

France will preside the E.U. effective today, and for six months. This amidst much Euro-skepticism, and the difficulties of bringing together so many countries (27) with such divergent cultures and agendas. An American friend asked why Europeans cannot build consensus, when the U.S. with its 50 states embraces the flag in a beep. First, the U.S. is not as homogeneous as it appears to be, even if its federal institutions are much stronger than those of Europe; this election year brings plenty of evidence of its internal divergences. Second, the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, who did embrace the flag upon setting step on its soil. Europe is a federation of nation states, all with with a long, proud history, and a cultural identity that wasn't left at the E.U.'s doorstep.

The European Union's biggest issue is that it grew too fast and now resembles a teenager whose spine cannot support the height and weight for lack of muscle support. But did it have a choice? Not really. Now it has to adapt, and revise an institutional structure rendered obsolete by its sheer size and diversity. Europe has tremendous potential, but it will take bold moves, radical thinking, and relevance to its citizenry to bring success. French president Sarkozy's built-in boldness and radicalism will undoubtedly ruffle a few feathers, but he might actually achieve some wins. A suivre...
photo AP