Encouraging the EU to Step Up

Max Bergmann, as usual, with a smart take — by which, of course, I mean an opinion I agree with — on the EU and why we need a high-profile ambassador in Brussels:

Sending a person with some bureaucratic clout would also send apositive signal of support to the effort to expand EU integration intothe foreign policy realm. If we start using the EU as a means throughwhich to conduct our foreign policy, it could also encourage Europe todevelop a more coherent and cohesive foreign policy. As the financialcrisis severely reigns in our ability to act in the world, we willincreasingly need those who we see eye to eye with us [sic] to do moreinternationally.

The EU will never replace its individual member states on the international stage, and our bilateral relationships with the EU heavyweights will remain primary for the foreseeable future. But supporting the institutional reforms necessary to allow the EU to punch in its weight class when it can and should is, as Bergmann says, a sound investment. That will inevitably create a counterweight to American influence in some areas. But in almost all the imaginable scenarios where multilateral leverage will come into play, the U.S. and EU are likely to be on the same page, especially entering what looks to be a period of American foreign policy realism and modesty.