EU vs. USA: Is there a rift?by Rit Nosotro
Explain the growing rift between the idealism, policies, religion, and power of the E.U. and that of the U.S.A.. What are the causes and effects of their differences?
Once part of the very body they are currently drawing away from, the United States of America (US) and the European Union (EU) are drawing farther apart in modern day issues about trade, war, foreign policy and other issues. The US is truly the Melting Pot of the world, and a very large part of the "ingredients" in that Pot originated in Europe. However, it is apparent as time goes on that these two "nations" do not agree on many current issues. The differences between the EU and the US display the different thinking and ideas that make up the separate nations.
First of all, Americas feel differently about their country then people living in the European Nation. One such writer expressed this as this. "The EU may be many things, but it is assuredly not One Nation, nor ever will be. If we went out into the streets of Washington and asked the first hundred Americans we met to characterize their nationality, I guess at least 99 would say 'First and foremost, I am an American'. Very few people in the EU would say 'First and foremost I am a European'"1. So, while many Europeans consider themselves part of one nation, they still consider themselves very separate. Americans, on the other hand, all feel a very strong bond to the United States. They consider themselves one body, while Europeans probably consider themselves several bodies in one partnership. This state of mind keeps the people of Europe from bonding together as close to each other as the people of America have.
In addition, the growing power gap in the military power between the United States and the countries of the European Union have changed the ideas about foreign policy held by these two "nations." After World War II, even starting after World War I, European superpowers have been decreasing. Funding for weapons in the EU is only two percent of their GDP, while the US spends three percent of their GDP and is still increasing 2 . Currently, the US has a much higher Gross Domestic Product than the EU, and this slight percentage difference accounts for hundreds of billions of dollars spent more on weapons in the US than the EU. One such author sums this fact up in his book Of Paradise and Power. He says "Strong powers naturally view the world differently than weaker powers. They measure risks and threats differently, and they have different levels of tolerance for insecurity. Those with great military power are more likely to consider force a useful tool of international relations than those who have less military power."3 So, ever since the World Wars, the EU has been slowly becoming more and more diplomatic and willing to live with threats while the US has become more and more military oriented and willing to go have conflict in order to assure security. Right now, the US is sort of like a "big brother" to the rest of the world. It has taken the role of protecting the other countries around the world since many of these countries lack the means to fend off enemies with their limited military resources. The EU, along with other countries may think that the US is too overpowering or too willing initiate conflict, but that is only because they don't know what it would be like without protection. Without protection, they could be under siege by other countries and wouldn't be able to defend themselves without help.
Additionally, differences in the ideas of trade and taxation have created rifts between these two nations. The EU is adamantly opposed to using genetically modified (GM) foods, and the US is confused why. The majority of food grown in the US is GM food, and the Americans cannot understand why Europe will not buy what Americans eat. So, now America is pursuing a claim with the World Trade Organization because they feel Europe is not playing fair when they reject American grown GM foods.4 However, at the same time the Europeans were angry at the Americans because of a high tariff on steel imported into America. President Bush had decided to raise the tariff to help American steel manufacturers to regain some revenue after some fierce competition. The Europeans felt this dampened their industry and threaten that if Bush did not lift these tariffs, they would raise tariffs on imported American products such as produce.5 Bush backed down as a tariff war would have been a deadly blow to an already struggling produce importation industry. The two nations continually monitor their trade differences to avoid a full out trade war.
Overall, the US and EU hold the similar beliefs on issues but have different ideas on how o approach those issues. They both believe trade is an important issue, but neither can agree on the best way to conduct trade. They both believe peace is a good thing, but cannot agree on the timing of diplomacy or military force to bring about peace. All in all, these two nations are separated by the different passions and ideas of the people residing in their respective countries.
1 Hemler, Roger. Federalism in the USA and the EU. The Bruges Group (2 February 2004)
2 Kagan, Robert. Of Paradise and Power. Alfred A. Knopf: New York. 2003
3 Kagan, Robert. Of Paradise and Power. Alfred A. Knopf: New York. 2003
4 More trouble ahead July 2003. More trouble ahead.The Economist (5 February 2004)
5 Cox, James.Sparks fly over U.S.-EU trade November 2003 Sparks fly over U.S.-EU trade USA Today(1 February 2004)
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