On Thursday 23 April, the Forum on Geopolitics held a 'Masterclass on US views of contemporary European order' with Dr Richard Haass, President of the US Council on Foreign Relations.
Dr Haass began by speaking of the European project as a great success. He said it was easy to overlook the triumphs of European integration. It has prevented an inter-European war and resolved the German question. While we tend to think of the economic rationale for Union today, Haass stressed the political factors that underpinned European integration.
Haass spoke about the two big question marks that threaten this successful legacy. Firstly, he spoke about the economic threat posed by the Eurozone crisis. Secondly, he spoke about the return of geopolitical competition to the European continent as a result of Russian assertiveness.
Haass argued that the major economic problems that Europe faces today are a result of national governments rather than the EU. Nevertheless, domestic problems within European nations are exacerbated by structural problems with the EU, the most critical being that of an economic union without fiscal consolidation. As there is no consideration of what European nations should spend their military budgets on, the whole ends up being much less than the sum of its parts. Consequently, Europe punches below its weight in the world and this undermines the Atlantic partnership. As a remedy, Haass expressed his wish that "Europe were more European," with more integrated, centralised planning for how Europe pools its resources for security and defence spending.
Further information on Dr Haass can be found here.