The Year Of Europe

HAMBURG: History works in leaps and bounds. After WWII ended, it took a few years before new European structures emerged, but they fell into place between 1948 and 1950. When the Cold War ended abruptly in 1989, elements of a new order were slow to materialize. Now, in 1997, they are seeming to come together. This will be a make-or-break year for Europe. If it looks more like make than break, it will nevertheless be a close call.

Chances are strong that NATO and the EU will begin to open themselves to the new democracies in Eastern Europe. Simultaneously, elements for a new relationship between Russia and NATO are emerging, as well as a new structure for the Atlantic Alliance that assures continuing US involvement through a greater European willingness to shoulder part of the security burden. And for the EU, depressed under a cloud of Euro-scepticism, 1997 could mean the breakthrough to a confident and enterprising Union by providing its most ambitious project to date -- monetary union and a common currency.

Deadlines for these steps are all squeezed into the next ten months. In mid-June, members of the EU plan to sign a new treaty to give greater cohesion to their cooperation, thus making the Union ready for negotiations with those countries that want to join. These talks are to begin in early 1998. In July, the heads of the 18 NATO governments will invite Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join the Western Alliance, with others to follow. By then a new division of labor between the US and Europe should be worked out, enhancing European responsibility for low-level conflicts in and around the continent. To make sure NATO enlargement will not lead to a new European divide, an institutional link between Russia and NATO could be in place. Finally, 1997 will determine which EU countries qualify for monetary union. Fiscal and economic performance during the year will provide the basis for that decision, to be taken in early 1998, with monetary union beginning January 1, 1999.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now