December 1, 2006
In the post-9/11 era of heightened security awareness, conflicting strategies for containing and combating security risks have strained relations between the United States and the European Union despite common goals. These U.S.-EU disagreements do not signal that the alliance should be discarded, as many fundamental U.S. and European interests are reconcilable, and an uncertain and disunited Europe, distracted and alienated by its internal differences, could become even more problematic for Washington. Instead, to maintain dependable partners within the EU, the United States should focus greater attention on its new allies in central and eastern Europe (CEE), who will be a guiding force in the continuing development of U.S.-EU relations and have generally exhibited a more pro-U.S. approach than many of their western European neighbors.
That being said, the United States must resist the temptation to focus its diplomatic efforts on bilateral agreements with those European countries in closest alignment to it, and instead use these dependable and durable partners among the CEE states to develop more predictable and productive relations with the EU for the sake of long-term stability. To accomplish this strategic objective, Washington needs to refocus the NATO alliance, ensure U.S.-EU complementarity, jointly pursue the expansion of democratic systems, reward its new allies, intensify economic and social interchanges, promote military rebasing, improve public diplomacy, defuse any current or latent controversies, and more effectively engage emerging allies throughout central and eastern Europe.
Janusz Bugajski is director of the New European Democracies Project at CSIS. His previous publications include America’s New Allies: Central-Eastern Europe and the Transatlantic Link (CSIS, 2006), Cold Peace: Russia’s New Imperialism (Praeger/CSIS, 2004), Political Parties of Eastern Europe: A Guide to Politics in the Post-Communist Era (M.E. Sharpe, 2002), and Toward an Understanding of Russia: New European Perspectives (Council on Foreign Relations, 2002). Ilona Teleki is deputy director of the New European Democracies Project and coauthor of America’s New Allies.