March 26, 2014
Today, March 26th, the capital of Europe, Brussels, is hosting the European Union – USA Summit. The United States President Barack Obama is in Brussels for the first time since he took office in 2009.
Thus, the presence of the U.S. president in the EU capital confirms the weight and the importance of the Euro -Atlantic partnership.
The relations between the EU and the U.S. during the crisis have not been consistent, each one trying to put its domestic affairs in order or to channel its efforts towards more attractive areas, such as Central Asia and the Middle East for Americans, while the Europeans’ focus remained on the domestic crisis that they haven’t yet managed to solve.
A powerful signal of U.S. involvement was the initiative of the Free Trade Agreement, a mutually beneficial economic partnership that has the ability to consolidate the two economies.
As I said, the importance of this agreement is given by one figure: the European Union together with the United States holds approximately 50% of world GDP and account for nearly a third of total world trade.
The 500 million European citizens make the EU one of the largest markets in the world for importing finished goods and services, especially those with high added value. It is the area that attracts the most FDI and realizes large investments abroad. So it is a very attractive market. Yet!
Following the latest developments at the eastern border, this agreement gets new values that directly involve our country. Romania can serve as a springboard for the eastern market, a point where trade relations can expand to the East, and not only there. It’s an ambitious statement, but it’s not impossible.
However, the focus in EU-US relations fell over the Ukrainan crisis/ the crisis in Crimea. It will also be the focus of today’s meeting, especially the possible Russian sanctions, rather difficult economic measures given that many European countries are dependent on Russian energy and the Eastern commodity market. All these in the context of a “0 growth” in EU.
Here comes again the importance of the Free Trade Agreement, by which the U.S. could export gas (shale gas) in Europe. The Congress is expected to vote this.
Beyond the EU-US collaboration, I cannot help wondering, in light of recent officials statements, how strong remains the NATO commitment in the region. Poland, Romania and the Baltic states, directly or indirectly, requested a reaffirmation of the solidarity principle contained in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Charter. Consequently, there were conducted joint military exercises to calm the fear generated by regional instability. But this fear was emanated by an extremely precise thing. The army’s budget didn’t amount to the figure agreed in the Accession Treaty and the ability of the Romanian army didn’t reach the NATO standards.
We rightly and fully justified wanted a security guarantee and then we felt comfortable only to sign the accession agreement. But let’s not forget that security, as the economic well-being, is not a given thing. It is not a gift. Both security and welfare are not received. They are won!
During his visit to Brussels, Barack Obama will have a meeting with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. The visit to Brussels is part of a tour that will end up in Saudi Arabia. About this trip, the National Security adviser, Susan Rice, said Tuesday that: “If there’s a common theme to this trip, it’s the fundamental strength and importance of our alliances and partnerships. The strategic importance of this effort really can’t be overstated. From Europe to Asia to the Middle East, our ability to lead strong coalitions is essential to making progress”. Basically this is the essence of the American foreign policy in recent years. The fact that Europe is explicitly included in the strong coalitions’ axis means reaffirming a pragmatic Euro-Atlantic bond, which has been neglected so far, especially during the current crisis.
But what is true for Romania is obviously true for Europe. And in the case of Europe, as in the case of Romania, security and well-being will not fall from heaven, and won’t wait for better times. Certainly, Russia and Vladimir Putin don’t take this option into consideration.
Without a common army, without a domestic common politics (consistent coordinated), above the domestic politics of some member states, without a strategy and a common economic policy, the European Union will not manage to win neither security nor welfare .
And when it comes to common army, we cannot take as reference the common EU budget share. I mean the 1% of the European GDP.
Author : Adrian Marius Dobre