From Richard Burt, the American Interest: For a host of reasons, the European project, one of the most impressive international achievements of the past fifty years, is in deep crisis. …
Both the German and French governments thus tend to give lip service to the European project even as they gradually “re-nationalize” important aspects of their foreign, security and economic policies. Perhaps nothing illustrates this more clearly than Merkel and Sarkozy’s decision, taken after the prolonged and painful European debate on the Lisbon Treaty, that they could not tolerate a strong new President of the European Council, opting instead for Herman Van Rompuy, a little-known and unassertive Belgian politician.
The financial crisis and the paralysis of Europe-building have so preoccupied European institutions that they have had little time to focus on a new array of strategic challenges facing the continent. Despite widespread concern and discussion about Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and natural gas, the European Union is still very far from designing a common energy policy. In northern Europe, Germany’s “partnership” with Russia has made it a regional energy hub, but this does not serve the interests of most other EU members. The same is true of energy links in southern Europe that Italy is working hard to establish with Russia.
Richard Burt, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, is managing director at McLarty Associates. (photo: AP)