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The Common Foreign and Security Policy: Implications for the United States and Europe

Recorded on November 1, 2005

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

With the 1992 ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, the European Union (EU) radically changed its identity from largely an institution of economic integration to one with much broader ambitions, including the so-called second pillar - the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Many thought the goal of a Europe unified in its foreign and security policy was absurdly ambitious. Yet, in spite of numerous obstacles, among them the recent "No" votes on the European Constitutional Treaty, Europe has been moving inexorably toward the CFSP, albeit in often subtle, untrumpeted ways.

In July 2000, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Sweden signed the Framework Agreement to "facilitate the restructuring and operation of the European defense industry." Subsequently, the EU established the European Defense Agency in January 2005; it has already begun to develop a satellite navigation system independent of the U.S. controlled GPS. In short, the EU has taken definitive steps to establish a defense structure that is parallel to and potentially independent of both the U.S. and NATO.

Some in the United States and Central Europe are critical that these prospects would infringe on bilateral relations and that the U.S. would lose its ability to negotiate independently with various European allies. Existing NATO structures and capabilities would also be undermined. At the same time, the CFSP can be seen as directly counter to the national interests of many of the countries whose foreign policies would be subsumed by it.

This conference will provide a clear analysis and critical appraisal of the advantages and disadvantages to a Europe in which individual nations are no longer able to speak with independent voices.