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[Re]Nationalization in Europe

[Re]Nationalization in Europe

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Originally published in August 2009, this brief explores an accelerating trend toward renationalization of policy in key domains in Europe. This trend presents both dangers and opportunities for Europe and the United States.
Originally published in August 2009, this brief explores an accelerating trend toward renationalization of policy in key domains in Europe. This trend presents both dangers and opportunities for Europe and the United States.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: German Marshall Fund of the United States on Sep 28, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Summary: Evidence suggests anaccelerating trend toward renation-alization of policy in key domainsin Europe. This trend presentsboth dangers and opportunities forEurope and the United States.For the United States, a nimblepolicy toward Europe will be essen- tial. The United States has alwaysworked with individual national gov-ernments in Europe and has beenaccused of not embracing the full-ness of European integration in theEuropean Union. America will have to acknowledge the competence of  the EU in some domains even as itrecognizes that other areas requiremore intensive cooperation withindividual nations.For Europe, many see the returnof national purpose as a route toirrelevance on the global scene. Soit may be. But if renationalizationcan be turned into a more roundlysupported and authentic set of 
purposes, Europe could nd itself 
well positioned to play a strongerrole in the world as a whole than ithas been able to muster for itself in recent decades. The return of constructive nationalism, among 
nations with well-dened rules of 
cooperation, might paradoxically en-ergize Europe in ways that Brusselshas not been able to achieve.
Wider Europe
World Wars I and II gave nationalisma very bad reputation. Te institutionsthat grew out o World War II sought toprevent the worst results o nationalisticpolicies in military, economic, andpolitical domains. NAO collectivized thedeense o Western Europe. TeBretton Woods structures aimed topromote trade and development throughmultilateral institutions. Te UnitedNations sought to collectivize politicaldecision-making where possible. In allcases, nations reserved key decision-making authority or themselves whilecommitting to cooperative eorts toreach common goals.One project, European integration, grewrom the Coal and Steel Community intoone o the most ambitious transnationalprojects in history, the European Union.Te original objective was to remove theeconomic component o the “Germanproblem” and allow Germany and itsneighbors, especially France, to live andprosper together peaceully. It did notintend to eliminate the nation-state, butit sought to temper the worst outcomeso nationalistic competition on economicterrain.NAO was established in the military sphere, as a response to Soviet intentionsin Europe as demonstrated in Berlin,Czechoslovakia, and elsewhere. Europe’spostwar weakness meant that Americanleadership and capacity would be neededto resist Soviet military expansion andpressure. NAO linked Western Europeanand American security, including Amer-ica’s nuclear guarantee, through sharedrisks and burdens on the part o all allies.Individual nations retained responsibility or their own deense establishments. Butby collectivizing national deense com-mitments under the Washington reaty (especially Article V), NAO eectively denationalized military purposes.Other institutions in all domains removedsome o the traditional authority o theEuropean nation-states, as well. Forexample, the European Court o Justice,established in 1952, plays a signicantrole in shaping judiciary review o national compliance with European laws.But the trend away rom nationalizationis now in reverse, in several importantareas. First, in economic policy, nationalapproaches prevail. Philip Stephens o the
Financial Times
wrote, “Te integrationistimpulse that led to the creation o a singlemarket and a European currency has longsince dissipated.” Te most obvious anddecisive example o this trend is oundin the national responses to the nancialcrisis o the last year. Policies have variedbetween the United States and Europe,and within Europe. National views o interests trumped a presumed and much-trumpeted need or a unied approach.Perhaps most crucially, voters seem tohave approved this decision on the part
[Re] Nationalization in Europe
by Joseph Wood
1744 R Street NWWashington, DC 20009T 1 202 745 3950F 1 202 265 1662E ino@gmus.org
August 20, 2009
Joseph Wood is senior resident fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). The views expressed are those of  the author and do not represent the views of GMF.
Policy Brie 
Wider Europe
o their leaders. With economic concerns uppermost in theirminds, continental European voters in recent European parlia-mentary elections armed the center-right policies o sittinggovernments that stressed a national rather than transnationalresponse. In the United Kingdom, voters punished GordonBrown’s Labour Party but on grounds having nothing to dowith wanting more European integration; indeed, they strongly avored Euro-skeptic candidates.Institutionally, the next advances in European integration, theailed European Constitution and its successor the Lisbon reaty,have been rejected by reerenda repeatedly, including in France.Te outcome o eorts to bring the Lisbon reaty into orceremains unclear. Te German Constitutional Court recently approved the treaty, but demanded changes to strengthen therole o the national Parliament. Polls show a substantial major-ity o Germans want a reerendum on the reaty, as does a largemajority in the United Kingdom. Ireland, which rejected thereaty in a reerendum last year, may approve it in a re-vote thisall, but only aer securing guarantees o national sovereignty inthe areas o abortion policy, military neutrality, and tax law. Atthe least, these outcomes all demonstrate substantial Europeanpublic reticence regarding urther integration, despite the enthu-siasm o some political elites.Meanwhile, dependence on Russian energy supplies is Europe’sgreatest single strategic vulnerability. Moscow has demonstratedrepeatedly its determination to use its resources or geo-politi-cal purposes. I any one area o policy cries out or a collectiveEuropean response, energy is that area. Yet energy policy remainsrmly in the category o national policy. While many in CentralEurope have argued or a stronger European response, Germany,France, and Italy have resisted any eorts that might impinge ontheir national corporate energy champions, and each has soughtseparate energy deals with Russia. Progress on the Nabuccopipeline that would allow Europe to bring Caspian and CentralAsian gas via a route independent o Russian control has beenhalting, while Russia promotes its Northstream and Southstreamprojects on routes that it would control. On this issue, so centralto economic prosperity and where vulnerability can hinder theull exercise o sovereignty, Europe as a whole has rejecteddenationalization or collective response.Finally, in the area o deense, the renationalization trend is ap-parent. Most obvious is the case o Aghanistan, where NAO isengaged. Within the alliance, dierent allies have placed nationalcaveats on their militaries’ operations, producing a division o burden and risk based on varying national perceptions o theimportance o the eort. Te eect is a multi-tier alliance wherenational, rather than collective, deense goals predominate. Tesame eect is seen in attitudes toward urther enlargement thatwould, much later, include Ukraine and Georgia. Central Europetends to avor such eventual enlargement as a continuation o theproject o consolidating Western institutions throughout WiderEurope. Germany and France are increasingly clear that they seethis project as complete or the oreseeable uture, without theinclusion o Ukraine and Georgia. Tis is a basic strategic ques-tion or NAO, and the alliance is split along national lines.Tere are conficting signs, as well. Brussels continues to generatesubstantial legislation that is in turn ratied by national legisla-tures. Te EU exercises substantial regulatory power, especially in anti-trust oversight, and decisively infuences many areas o governance.But the broader trend o renationalization seems clear. Temain counter-current may not be at the level across or above thenation-state, but in the increasing desire o many to retain orincrease the power o regional governments more attuned tolocal needs and wants. At times, this regionalization is in act aorm o resurgent nationalism based on ethnic lines, as in therecent crisis in Belgium.Is the renationalization trend dangerous? One can imagine so.Te rise o ar-right parties in the recent European parliamen-tary elections is not a healthy sign. But it could also be explainedby a combination o an energized ringe asserting disproportion-ate infuence in elections marked by low turn-out, combinedwith “rustration voting” by some who saw support or theseparties as a consequence-ree way o making a statement aboutthe status quo.Te renationalization o deense purposes carries dangers, aswell. Problems such as Iran, or a Russia pursuing a 19th cen-tury-style sphere o infuence (mainly through the use o energy dominance, but with pretensions o “great power” military statusnever ar rom the surace), or Aghanistan and Pakistan wouldbe much more easily dealt with through a unied sense o pur-pose, and the weakness wrought by division will aect all.But renationalization could also have positive eects, as well. Itmay render European governance as a whole more democrati-cally accountable as national governments must ace the conse-quences o their actions with voters. It could also restore a senseo purpose to Europe as a whole by decentralizing purposes,which tend to become dissipated as they rise away rom local
Policy Brie 

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