EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso speaks on the Irish Referendum at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Oct. 3, 2009. He hailed the Irish 'yes' vote to the EU reform treaty as vote of confidence in the EU.
"To Heed President Obama's Call to Strengthen the EU, Britain Must First Have a Referendum on Whether to Stay in at All"
Op-Ed, The Huffington Post
April 2, 2010
Author: Azeem Ibrahim, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2008–2010
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
"On his last visit to Britain, President Obama made it clear that he wanted to see Britain play its part in keeping the EU strong. But Britain has a problem with Europe and like Obama, most Americans don't get it. To some extent, this ambiguity goes to the heart of the ambiguity about the EU itself. What is it? Is it a colourless supranational body or an evolving twenty-first century global power?
Sometimes the European Union even behaves like it's trying to keep people confused. Its moves towards an EU defence force over the last decade have been halting. And its decision to appoint a president and foreign policy chief and then give the jobs to two small-time politicians who nobody had heard of before, was confusing.
In short, its behavior leaves many observers asking: how important is it really?
The true reason for the confusion is that us Europeans can't agree what we want the EU to be. If you picture the age-old dispute between the US federal government and the states, then imagine that the states each speak a different language, have their own histories sometimes stretching back thousands of years, and have frequently fought bloody wars — not least two which became the biggest two global conflicts of our planet's history — then you begin to get some idea of the challenge of European integration...."
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