European alliances 

The Yorkshire Ranter and Plastic Gangster take apart an article by John O'Sullivan in the National Review online. They--and this blog--are mainly interested in the use by O'Sullivan of that concept of a two-block EU, with France, Germany, and Spain on the one side, and 'Atlanticist' Britain, Italy, and Poland on the other. Both British blogs gleefully demonstrate why it would be foolish of UK eurosceptics to rely on a meaningful alliance with Italy and Poland in EU matters, because of the large differences in national interests among these countries.

I would only add that beyond objective national interests, another factor that influences the projection capability of national politics at the EU level is based on personal qualities of leaders. Chirac's unpopularity outside of France, for example, seems to hamper his ability to push French positions in the EU, whereas Blairs relative popularity and the respect he has earned among his peers are probably helping the UK. In that regard, Berlusconi's record is of course abysmal, and the Polish government seems to be half-way out the door anyway. The alliances that dominate the EU25 will be fleeting, dynamic and short-lived, more flexible than the old Franco-German axis, and potentially rather hard to predict.


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