Divided Europe Stands

In coming meetings of the G8 (the world's club of rich industrial countries plus Russia), four members--Germany, France, Italy, and the UK--will participate both individually and as members of the European Union, whose President also attends to represent the EU as a whole. But shouldn't the EU have only a single representative? Regardless of whether these meetings are productive, unitary EU participation would be of supreme symbolic value: it would affirm a common European stance in international relations and international economic policy.

The main argument in favor of such a change is that joint participation by the EU would increase Europe's weight in international relations, especially vis-a-vis the US. After all, a key reason for European integration in the first place was precisely to provide a more powerful voice for Europe in the international arena.

The EU's member countries share strict rules on fiscal policy, a common currency (except, for the moment, the UK, Sweden, and Denmark), a common trade policy, a common antitrust policy, and common market polices, just to name a few. So why not having a single representative at the G8 meetings. Indeed, Germany, France, Italy, and the UK basically share a common stance on international economic policy, so why not present a united front to the world where these issues are concerned?

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