The future direction of European defense is at a crossroads, with the NATO experience in Afghanistan casting into stark relief the limits of European military capacities, and the recently enacted Lisbon Treaty offering important new opportunities to improve European defense capabilities. To establish itself as a credible security actor on the global stage, the EU will need to not only improve the way it works together on defense, but overcome the persistent lack of political will to do so.
The EU at a Crossroads
As the European Union enters the post-Lisbon era, questions remain about the role it will play in the world. From defense and security to economic government, the EU still faces tough choices about whether to strengthen the union or maintain national prerogatives. The decisions it makes will determine whether it will become a global power, or a spectator in the emerging multipolar world.
Articles in this feature
Hubert Védrine was a diplomatic adviser and chief of staff to French President Francois Mitterand, and went on to serve as France's foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. In a wide-ranging interview, he offered his analysis of the issues and challenges facing the European Union, both at home and abroad, as it enters the post-Lisbon era.
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Perhaps Nietzsche's famous words would be more apt as the European Union's motto, instead of "Unity in Diversity," for in the now half-century of European integration, progress has often been made through crisis. Indeed, if the union's current difficulties are a measure of its future progress, then progress will be great.
President Barack Obama does not seem to care very much about Europe. A series of notable slights by the White House have led to a sense of neglect on the continent, creating the impression that Obama is one of the least Atlanticist presidents in recent American history. Although this view is exaggerated, the growing estrangement between the U.S. and Europe may actually be beneficial for relations over the long term.