EU Expansion Reshapes Future of Europe: New Magazine Will Explore Ramifications

By Golino, Louis R. | The World and I, August 2004 | Go to article overview

EU Expansion Reshapes Future of Europe: New Magazine Will Explore Ramifications


Golino, Louis R., The World and I


Louis R. Golino is a freelance writer.

The largest enlargement of the European Union in its history, which formally took place on May 1, is an important geopolitical development that should be of considerable interest to Americans, specialists on Europe say.

Ten countries joined the 15 existing European Union member-states to form an economic, political, and military bloc with a combined population of 450 million people and an economy that produces one- quarter of the world's annual output.

The new members include eight Central European countries--the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia--plus Malta and the southern Greek-Cypriot part of Cyprus. Their inclusion is widely expected to help shape the future character of the European Union, how it governs itself, and the world role it pursues. It is also seen as an affirmation of their European identity and of their break with a communist past.

To qualify for membership, these countries had to enact thousands of pages of EU laws, treaties, and regulations over the past decade. Their accession to the European Union, experts say, is a historic achievement not just for themselves and Europe, but also for the United States. That is because a unified European continent is a long-standing goal of American policy pursued by every U.S. administration since that of President Harry S. Truman.

In addition, most of the new members are close allies of the United States. For example, Poland, the new EU member-state with the largest population and economy, currently supports the U.S. mission in Iraq by commanding a multinational division deployed to the south-central region of that country.

According to Radek Sikorski, director of the New Atlantic Initiative at the American Enterprise Institute and a former deputy foreign and defense minister of Poland, "The inclusion of countries that were isolated, impoverished, and politically transformed by half a century of Nazi and communist totalitarianism will change Europe--economically, politically, and, above all, culturally--in ways its politicians have not yet begun to comprehend."

TransAtlantic magazine

Anticipating wider interest in the new Europe, especially among Americans of European descent, the Center for Transatlantic Relations in Washington, D.C., recently launched a new bimonthly magazine called TransAtlantic: Europe, America and the World. It is designed primarily for the nonspecialist reader.

The Center for Transatlantic Relations is part of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as SAIS. It is also the coordinating office of the American Consortium of European Union Studies--a partnership comprising Johns Hopkins and four other Washington-area universities.

Funded by the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, the Consortium is recognized as one of a select number of centers for the study of the European Union. It and the SAIS center were established to promote increased awareness of Europe and European-American relations and to address gaps in the study of Europe in the United States, such as the need for more policy relevancy and interdisciplinary work.

Europeans frequently point out that most Americans do not have a very solid understanding of what is happening in Europe, and especially of how the European Union functions. But specialists on Europe explain that the European Union is such a unique and complicated geopolitical entity that even they sometimes have trouble following all the intricacies of its politics and bureaucracy.

They also say that U.S. government officials tend to focus primarily on bilateral relations with their European counterparts, even though key decisions are increasingly being made by supranational EU institutions such as the European Commission.

Drifting apart? …

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