“Without the support of the United States, Europe’s institutional order would never have been established.”
United States and Europe have forged mutually beneficial ties for years. The European-American alliance is one of the strongest partnerships in the world. European Commission President Barroso captured it perfectly when he said “The relationship between the United States and Europe constitutes the world’s strongest, most comprehensive and strategically most important partnership.”
Being the two supers of the world, promoting closer ties between EU and US is necessary. Its relationship is based on their common basic belief in the sovereignty of democracy, the need to protect human rights and the promotion of market economies.
Since its very inception, the process of European Integration has been strongly supported by the US. Without US vision and assistance, the European founding fathers would have had enormous difficulties. That support still exists. During his visit to Europe in February 2005, President Bush stated:
“My government and the United States want the European project to succeed. It’s in our interests that Europe be strong (…). It’s in our interests because the values that caused the European Union to exist in the first place — the values of human rights and human dignity and freedom — are the same values we share. And we have an opportunity to work together to spread those values.”
In his book “Empire” by Integration: the United States and European Integration, 1945-1997, Lundestad points out that US initially hesitated to show support of the European integration efforts from 1945 to 1946. But US officials later changed their stand to openly support European integration initiatives such as the establishment of Common Market, the European Coal and Steel Community, and the European Defense Community.
The change in United States’ public position towards European integration happened around the 60s and early 70s through the Reagan administration. Reagan was a supporter of “burden-sharing” among the NATO allies and increased the budget for European defense spending to minimize the threat posed by the Soviet Union. After Reagan, George Bush helped quell public doubts towards Europe and advocated for Atlantic unity, settling trade disputes to attain political cooperation. Finally, during the time of Bill Clinton, who constantly supported European institutional order particularly the plan for monetary union.
The support of the US government to European integration shows clearly what their internal policy is towards Europe. The motives for American support though were more complex when examined. According to Lundestad, the United States consistently supported European integration for five reasons. These reasons are the following: the need to introduce the federalist American government model in Europe; the conviction that an integrated Europe is more reasonable and effective; the hope that European cooperation in the security and economic aspect would help lessen America’s loads; the belief that a strong Europe would help contain the Soviet Union; and finally, the hope that Germany’s entry into a federal European structures would curb future problems with this country.
These motives were behind the move of the United States to help promote European institutional order through the Marshall Plan. Lundestad believes that the United States had little choice over the matter because Europe leaders Britain and France could not help. The United States had to oversee European post-war reconstruction on various levels.