Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Why Europe Still Matters

Repairing relations with our European allies will require much more than President Bush agreeing to say "French fries" again. 

Ongoing security efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and new challenges in Iran and Syria will require cohesion among our allies.  The rising strength of the euro and massive U.S. trade deficits are major issues for the global economy.   

President Bush's trip to Europe comes at a critical point for the trans-Atlantic partnership.  He must take Europe seriously and recognize its importance in global politics. 

The European Union (EU) is the fastest growing political system in the world. In the last ten years, the EU has grown from 12 countries to 25, and has brought 450 billion people, speaking more than 20 different languages, into a single political system. 

And it is still growing. Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania are scheduled to join in 2007, and Turkey has begun the long accession process.  Over the next five years, the European Commission will advance efforts to incorporate the Western Balkans (the countries of the former Yugoslavia and Albania).

Europe is America's largest trading partner. Europe and America remain each other's largest trading partners, exchanging about $1 billion in goods a day. The EU and United States frequently find themselves on the same side in trade disputes before the WTO over anything from steel to bananas.

Europe's Common Agricultural policy is a main obstacle to a new global trade agreement. Although the United States has similar has significant agricultural subsidies, the US has shown a willingness to decrease its tariffs and subsidies if the Europeans do as well.  What Europe does on this front affects America. 

NATO and the EU must play a critical role in securing Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing peace to the Middle East, and stopping the nuclear ambitions of Iran.  In the upcoming NATO summit, President Bush should work with NATO to ensure an accelerated timetable for the training of Iraqi forces. 

We should join our European allies in direct negotiations with Iran, offering both carrots and sticks to forestall Iran's nuclear ambitions.  And he should work with the Europeans to develop a common approach to an achievable peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  

To learn more about the wonders of the European Union and what it's ascendancy will mean for the United States, please go here.

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