LONDON-As fighting rages in Fallujah and Najaf, and as John Kerry explains that he threw his ribbons but not his medals over the wall in 1971, other things are happening that will shape the world and America's place in it for years to come. Consider the continuing struggle between Old Europe and New Europe. Old Europe--the term was popularized by Donald Rumsfeld in January 2003--is composed of the core nations of France and Germany and their poodle Belgium, the historic heart of the European Union. Old Europe opposed military action in Iraq and, in EUaffairs, is striving to create a unitary, France-like Europe--with an expensive welfare state and insulation from competition. Old Europe wants to be a counterweight to the United States economically and in foreign and military affairs.
New Europe is not so cohesive or purposeful. On Iraq, the United States had the support of most European governments--Britain, Italy, Spain (which switched after its March 14 election), the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, and others. But on economics, there has been no such unity. Poland, the Czech Republic, and the eight other accession states that officially joined the EU on Saturday wanted to be in the trade bloc despite qualms about its statism. Italy, happy to ditch the lira for the euro, has long loved the EU. Britain, with a freer and more vigorous economy than Old Europe, does not want to be strangled by overregulation and rigid labor laws.
The great project of Old Europe has been the EU constitution, drafted by a convention that was presided over by former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing, which would create a single entity of Europe with an executive and a foreign ministry. Last winter that seemed blocked by Spain and Poland, which demanded greater representation. But the new Spanish government announced it was joining Old Europe and dropped its objections, and Poland acquiesced as well. Suddenly, it looked as if the EUconstitution would go through. Further negotiations were scheduled for June, and agreement was expected (after the long European summer vacation) by fall.
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