Europe writes to President Obama


In an unprecedented move, European Union foreign ministers will send a six-page memo to the winner of the US election, seeking cooperation.

Amidst all the congratulatory notes the winner of the US presidential election can expect to receive in the coming days, there is going to be at least one letter, bearing a European return address, with the official postmark.

At a meeting last Monday in Marseilles, European Union foreign ministers gathered to put the finishing touches to a six-page memorandum that will guide their relations with the next US administration. This is the first time that the EU has drawn up a roadmap for relations with the United States. It also stands out as one of the few instances where Europe has been able to speak with one voice on a broad foreign policy agenda. Foreign policy is still a prerogative of the Member States of the European Union, a common European foreign policy can only be achieved by unanimous consensus.

The plan emphasizes four priorities:
better civilian-military cooperation in reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan,
intensified diplomacy with Russia,
intensified negotiations between Israel and Palestine with Europe as as co-guarantors of eventual peace, and an emphasis on multilateralism in global governance, UN and IMF reforms, and an expansion of the G-8.

Although Europe has not endorsed any candidate, its priorities as expressed in the plan seem to indicate frustration with the foreign policy pursued by the Bush administration. Despite conciliatory efforts in recent years, the Bush era is seen by many Europeans as marked by unilateralism, militarism and growing antagonism with countries like Russia.

The EU-US roadmap is the culmination of efforts by the French, as holders of the rotating EU presidency, to develop a more unified and active European foreign policy. The new policy thus drafted vis-à-vis the United States follows a series of initiatives led by President Nicolas Sarkozy in recent months, in response to the conflict between Russia and Georgia and the global financial crisis. .

Indeed, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner took the time last Monday to refute the famous quip made by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that he did not know what number to call if he wanted to speak to ‘Europe. “Europe has a telephone number. Kouchner replied. “It is the number of the country which is presiding over the European Union at a given time. Today it’s France, in two months it will be the Czech Republic. »


But there are still disagreements within the EU on foreign policy. France’s decision to announce that the renewal of negotiations for an EU-Russia partnership will take place on November 14 has caused consternation among some EU member states. The leaders of Poland and Lithuania filed a joint letter of protest last Monday. “We reaffirm that in the context of the continued occupation of Georgian territory, it would be too early to resume talks on a new partnership agreement with Russia. said Polish President Lech Kaczynski and Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus.

Of course, the most notorious and recent misunderstanding in terms of EU common foreign policy was in 2003, when ‘New Europe’ offered support for the war in Iraq, while ‘Old Europe’ refused. With its presidential note, the EU hopes to encourage closer contacts with America, while anticipating US efforts over the next four years to expose existing tensions between its member states.

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