Forging a Strategic US-EU Partnership in a Changing World

By Hamilton, Daniel S. | Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly, January 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Forging a Strategic US-EU Partnership in a Changing World


Hamilton, Daniel S., Hampton Roads International Security Quarterly


Mr. Chairman, congratulations on assuming your new duties at the helm of this Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. You asked me to discuss what the new Treaty of Lisbon might mean for the future of the European Union (EU) and relations between the EU and the United States. I'd like to do this by focusing first on key provisions of the Treaty itself, and second on how, in the wake of the Lisbon Treaty, the U.S. and EU could develop their relationship to meet future challenges. The Treaty of Lisbon

First a brief comment on the European Union itself. The European Union is the most important organization in the world to which the United States does not belong. It is a unique partnership of 27 democratic European countries, comprising 500 million people, with the aim of seeking "ever closer union." It is an unprecedented endeavor among sovereign states, less than a federation yet more than a confederation. Since its basic rules were first enshrined in the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the EU has expanded and evolved through successive treaties and arrangements that continue to define new parameters for the Union and delineate authority both between member states and European institutions and among those institutions. The Treaty of Lisbon, which went into effect on December 1, is the latest milestone in this decades-long evolution. European leaders believe they have designed a Treaty that can offer more efficient decision-making; more democracy through a greater role for the European Parliament and national parliaments; and increased coherence in EU engagement with other actors. The treaty stipulates where EU institutions have exclusive powers, such as in the EU's customs union, its common trade and competition policies; where the Union supports, coordinates or complements the sovereign decisions of member states, for instance in areas such as culture, education and industry; where there are shared lawmaking powers, such as in environmental affairs, transportation and consumer protection; and where member states retain full authority, such as in taxation, defense, and social security. The treaty also defines the authorities of the major European institutions:

x the European Commission, the administrative apparatus of the Union that also has the authority to initiate legislation; x the European Parliament, a body of 751 members elected by direct universal suffrage every five years to represent the citizens of the member countries, whose authorities are considerably enhanced by the Treaty; x the European Council, where member states make decisions affecting the Union. The Lisbon Treaty introduces a considerable number of innovations that are relevant to the United States and likely to affect American citizens and American interests. The Treaty enhances the EU's profile and powers in the areas of justice, freedom, and homeland security; defense, diplomacy and development; and trade and regulatory matters. New provisions boost the Union's purview over civil protection, humanitarian aid and public health. For the first time, the Union is tasked with the objectives of ensuring the proper functioning of its energy market, in particular energy supply; the promotion of energy efficiency and energy saving; and the development of new and renewable forms of energy. The Treaty makes combating climate change on an international level a specific objective of European Union environmental policy. The Council of the European Union, which represents the EU's member governments, will continue to share lawmaking and budget power with the European Parliament and maintain its central role in common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and coordinating economic policies. But the Treaty introduces some notable changes. First, it creates the position of President of the Council to chair EU summit meetings and coordinate EU policy-making among the member states for a two- and-a-half year term. …

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Forging a Strategic US-EU Partnership in a Changing World
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