A Single Voice for Europe Europe Is Unifying More Rapidly Than Predicted in the 1980s, but Dangers of Destabilization in the East Call for Ongoing US Help

By Steven Philip Kramer. Steven Philip Kramer is a research associate Georgetown University. | The Christian Science Monitor, March 18, 1992 | Go to article overview

A Single Voice for Europe Europe Is Unifying More Rapidly Than Predicted in the 1980s, but Dangers of Destabilization in the East Call for Ongoing US Help


Steven Philip Kramer. Steven Philip Kramer is a research associate Georgetown University., The Christian Science Monitor


THE Maastricht agreement tried to solve the problem of a unified Germany in a "deepened" Europe. It was not intended to confront the problem of how to deal with Western Europe's new Eastern question. Yet the threat of anarchy in the East may force Europe to accelerate the creation of a common foreign and security policy, precipitating changes in the institutional structure of the European Community (EC) as well.

Europe has long been moving toward greater integration. This process culminated in the Single European Act (SEA) of 1987. With the end of the cold war and German unification, Europe could have devoted most of the early 1990s to the implementation of the SEA. It is easy to forget the earnest debate of four years ago as to whether Europe could accomplish this by 1992.

German unification resulted in a common desire by French and German leaders to guarantee there would be a "European Germany" rather than a "German Europe." Germany would be moored so tightly to Europe that no future generation could alter it. German unification, on the other hand, only stiffened the British tendency to try to minimize European integration while remaining a community member.

Under normal conditions, it would take 10 years for Europe to digest and implement the Maastricht accord. There are built-in timetables. Monetary union will occur in 1997 and 1999. Not included in the Maastricht draft, but closely related, is the renegotiation of the Brussels Treaty, which expires in 1998.

New EC members include the EFTA states. Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia may join between 1992 and 2001, boosting the EC to the point where the present institutional structure won't work. Rising public consciousness of the "European Fact" would help convert the ungainly European institutional arrangement into something resembling the government of a great power. But the world is not in normal conditions.

The same process that led to German unification and the liberation of Eastern Europe has now resulted in the disintegration of the USSR. Far from reaching the end of history, Eastern Europe and the former USSR are witnessing the return of history.

While Western Europe tries to guarantee its future by overcoming its nationalist past, Eastern Europe has returned to nationalist rivalries and the unfinished business of 1848, 1918, and 1945.

The first sign of the return of history is the Yugoslav civil war. Europe's efforts to prevent and then solve this conflict foundered on the irrational nationalism of Serbian and Croatian leaders. The problem was not that Europe could not arrive at a common policy, but that no policy worked. Germany's awkward, barely concealed semi-unilateral recognition of Slovenia and Croatia was not a result of a resurgent of German lust for domination - or renewed drang nach Osten - but of frustration and of domestic politics overriding the wishes of the foreign policy establishment. …

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A Single Voice for Europe Europe Is Unifying More Rapidly Than Predicted in the 1980s, but Dangers of Destabilization in the East Call for Ongoing US Help
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