The choice of Javier Solana as Europe's first foreign policy
supremo, due to be announced at a summit of continental leaders
today, could not have been better calculated to reassure the United
States that while Europe seeks to speak with one voice on the world
stage, it does not intend to shout Washington down.
The affable Spaniard's leadership as secretary-general of NATO
over the past four years has given US officials ample opportunity to
study his pro-American credentials, and his penchant for consensus
Mr. Solana's nomination "is an excellent signal to the
says Charles Grant, head of the London-based Centre for European
Reform, an independent think tank. "A European foreign policy will
not be successful if it is seen as competing with the Americans,
if it cooperates with them."
The European Union's creation of the new post of high
representative for foreign and security policy is a key step toward
forging a common, Europe-wide approach to international questions,
and toward backing that approach with military muscle.
At the two-day summit, which began yesterday in Cologne, Germany,
EU heads of state are also giving the union - hitherto a primarily
economic arrangement - authority to order military action in crisis
spots, and to make member states develop the military capabilities
needed for such action.
This step toward an autonomous European military force follows a
Franco-German decision last week to make the Eurocorps, a mixed
brigade of troops from France, Germany, Luxembourg, and Spain, into
the kernel of a new European rapid-reaction force.
In some countries these moves toward a united Europe, armed with
an independently led military, have taken a distinctly anti-
"We must make Europe, already the biggest economic power in the
world, a political and military power too, to make sure that there
not just one policeman, the United States," declared Franois
Hollande, a leader of the ruling French Socialist party, recently.
Solana's background makes him well placed to smooth any American
feathers that might be ruffled by such talk. Although in his younger
socialist days in Madrid he campaigned for the closure of US
bases in Spain, and to keep Spain out of NATO, he is now an ardent
convert to the transatlantic alliance. His NATO experience clearly
reinforces the message that European leaders are seeking to send:
that the EU wants to back its foreign policy with genuine military
operational capabilities with forces that can react quickly and work
But it carries the twin signal that the EU intends to act
militarily under the NATO umbrella, not to create a duplicate
structure, much less an alternative or rival institution. The idea,
officials say, is that eventually the EU would be able to deploy
European troops under European command to carry out peacekeeping or
crisis-management tasks in which Washington did not want to