Foreign Policy's Annie Lowrey* takes note of some big news across the pond:
Something that might augur a truly titanic shift in foreign affairs happened this week. It involves possibly sweeping foreign-policy changes in two of the world's five official nuclear states. It promises to alter the Middle East peace process, negotiations with Iran, and policies regarding Russian missile defense. It will likely necessitate scores of new embassies. It directly affects 500 million people and indirectly affects the rest of the world.
On Tuesday, Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, grumblingly signed the European Union's Lisbon Treaty. His was the last signature needed to ratify the agreement, which streamlines Brussels' byzantine and slow-moving policymaking process and creates two leadership roles, an elected president with a 30-month term and a high representative for foreign policy.
Most focus has centered on the former position, whose precise responsibilities and powers EU leaders plan to hash out at a Nov. 11 summit. (The treaty comes into formal effect in December, and the new president is expected to take office on New Year's Day.) The somewhat sexy idea of a European president has led to wild speculation as to who might fill it, with dozens of potential candidates mentioned, most often the silver-tongued and internationally renowned Tony Blair and the barely known center-right Dutch leader Jan Peter Balkenende.
But it's actually the latter gig that has the most potential to transform how Brussels works and how Europe relates to the world.
There's some concern as to whether this will mean anything in the long run. Will Slovakia worry that it's interests are being ignored? Probably. Will Germany want to give up it autonomy? Probably not.
In the short-term, the arrangement will likely be quite tentative, and the high representative fairly weak. Over time, however, that's likely to change, if only because a more multipolar world in which China, India, Brazil and other countries gain power is one in which Europe will begin to lose its power unless it finds a way to speak with a clearer voice. As Europe expert Charlie Kupchan comments later in the article: "This is not a geopolitical earthquake. On the other hand, it is precisely these kinds of institutional changes that, in the long run, change the world." Europe is more united than anyone could have imagined 50 years ago, and there is every reason to believe that a young holo-blogger will be saying the same thing 50 years from now.
*As a quick full disclosure, Annie and I have an, er, personal relationship. But that's no reason, I figure, to deny you her trenchant insights on Europe! Also, I wonder why I feel the need to disclose this but don't see an issue linking to writers who are personal friends?
November 9, 2009; 3:32 PM ET
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