|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point: Debates: European|
Monday, 12 June, 2000, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Does Europe need America?
The apparent failure or unwillingness to seize ever-closer European union as an opportunity is not entirely confined to Britain.
Many wonder where the charismatic figures of Europe are - the ones people would expect to be trumpeting federalism.
As President Clinton completes his tour of Europe, an arguably disproportionate influence is left to Washington as a result of a lack of direction or agreement from the Europeans themselves.
Is Europe still overshadowed by the US? Does it still look to the US for a lead, and as the sole superpower without whom Europe is meaningless? Or is there a strong Euro identity taking shape which could overturn American dominance?
In this week's Europewide debate we ask - Does Europe need America? Europe Today's Mark Reid brought together Larry Siedentop - in London - and Francois Sergent, Washington bureau chief of the French daily Liberation.
This debate is now closed. Here are a selection of comments that we have received.
We Russians welcome European integration. Russia is part of Europe, and Europe is part of Russia. We want to be engaged and stay together. For this reason, a stronger Europe is good for Russia, it is good for Europe, and it is good for the US too.
Europe should forge ahead to form its own identity. It doesn't have to adopt the American federal model but can still fulfil a vital role as a transnational body with the strength to regulate transnational companies.
Europe should keep its close ties with the USA. It is the only way that stability in the world can exist
Europe's relationship with America can be compared to that of a teenager and his parents. They depend on their parents for money and shelter. At the same time they are trying to find themselves and go against their parents' power. Clearly, Europe has benefited from the US and should keep its close ties to secure some chance of global peace in the future.
Leisa Vladimiroff, New York, USA
Europe needs to rely on itself rather than the US, at least militarily. The bombing of Yugoslavia by US-led NATO only made things worse for all of us here in the Balkans. Economically, however, the US can help Europe as a major partner in trade.
I would like to see the US pull out of NATO and leave the EU to its own devices. I feel that the US gives far more to the EU in terms of defence guarantees and trade (i.e. market access) than it receives in return. We allowed this to happen during the Cold War and justified this trade-off as necessary to maintain our strategic alliances. But now, we do not need Europe for our security so there is no reason to continue to suffer Europe's annoyances.
The relationship that Europe has with the US increasingly resembles the one that Canada has with its southern neighbour. The US is Canada's "big brother".
We look up to him, but at the same time, we despise him for being so arrogant and strong. In short, all of us in the West need the United States, and although we claim that we can "go it alone," the actions we take don't prove that. Even if Europe did start to become stronger (in various aspects), the US would try its best to limit your progress. After all, nobody likes to lose power!
I think it's great that Europe has decided to expand and take on a more active role in the world
and not be dominated by one country. The United States needs an equal power in military and financial status to keep us in check. No one country needs to dominate it needs to be shared. Europe and America need to work as a team not alone.
America should remain engaged with Europe if for no other reason than as a reminder that there is an entire planet outside the USA. If she wishes to carry the mantle of 'the last remaining superpower' and she would be wise to keep an eye over her shoulder on China. American has a responsibility to engage, co-operate and develop an understanding of the rest of the world, not impose its political and commercial will on it. Europe does indeed need America; the political and commercial ties will not, and should not go away. But as an equal, not a dependant.
Europe remains a politically fragmented continent. That fragmentation will continue, despite the EU. Europe, without the glue of a US presence, US interests, and US bashing, will continue to politically fragment. The US must also retain a presence in Europe for its own security interests, specifically to encourage stability in Europe, the continent that spawned two world wars.
The USA should stay out of European affairs and sort out the problems in its own back yard. This could start with its bankrupt policies towards Cuba.
Stuart Huntley, England
Whilst it is certainly true that Europe owes America a great debt for its present situation it would seem that with the increase in European unity and the potential for a sense of European identity grants Europe a certain cultural distinction. It has always been the case that Europe needed America more than America needed Europe and with Europe increasingly stable and secure, building a more insular economy we will ties between Europe and the USA will probably be reduced purely to economics rather than culture.
Scott Novak, USA
I think that the US would like to see Europe become more self-reliant when it comes to matters of defence, but then would have some problems reconciling that with a desire to ensure that its core principals are not undermined.
To have peace in the coming decades, it is imperative that Europe wean itself from the leadership of the USA and develop its own policies to counter-balance the USA's. For 55 years the USA's money and military have directed European actions. While this was fine at one time, it is now unfortunate because the maintenance of peace needs a European viewpoint.
Dave Lock, Wales
Remember, diversity is happiness!
America and Europe are not only interdependent, they share a common identity which defines, in no small part, their interests. We are, on both sides of the Atlantic, part of the same civilisation, the West, and as such we will sail through the storms together whatever happens.
Steve Blunden, UK
As an American, I don't think Europe needs America. I think the present situation has just become too comfortable. I would like to see America disengage from Europe and the rest of the world and start focusing her vast resources inward. After all, we are supposed to be the constituents represented by the leaders in Washington.
Richard Jones, USA
I think that there will always be a strong link between the US and Europe simply because of our strong cultural link, since most Americans are descended from Europe. I also believe that the EU will eventually evolve into an enlarged entity which will go beyond Europe and with which the US will become more involved, such as becoming a member itself. So the European-US link will remain close for the foreseeable future.
Why only American movies, American books, American political ideas? Europe right now is the one that is trying out something new (the EU that is), not America. Will it be a success - who knows. But fact is, that Europeans should not consider themselves to be inflexible and rigid. The Americans are that too in their own way. They are totally behind in environmental protection, gun control and social welfare.
This is not against America. I like the USA and I think that Europeans should not risk the friendship with America (that is true also for America). But a little bit more of European self-confidence can only better the relationship with the USA. I say, go for it Europe!
Ann Hagemann, USA, German citizen
Other Talking Points:
Links to other European stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy