The EU and the War Machine

BRUSSELS: For many years, the most glaring weakness in the European Union has been its inability to mobilise a common foreign and security policy (CFSP). NATO's bombing of Serbia and Kosovo has highlighted these problems again.

Structural factors go a long way to explain this deficiency. Essentially, a CFSP cannot be put together by the slow and careful negotiations which characterise the normal EU process. War is different from economic integration, largely because it cannot be waged collectively by the assembling of cautious legislative procedures.

Such factors of inertia are systemic: they cannot be overcome internally by some ingenious system of majority voting. And yet it begins to look as though they may nevertheless be in the process of being overcome by the irresistible imperatives of the Kosovo crisis.

As so often in the EU, the French have a neat word for this: éngrenage (machinery), suggesting the image of someone getting caught up in the cogs of a machine, by which they mean the process of being drawn involuntarily along by the machinery of integration.