Director, The Cicero Foundation

Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, has upset many allies with his remarks that NATO had ceased to be "the primary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and co-ordinate the most important strategic issues of the day." Mr. Schröder, however, is right. Henry Kissinger observed some years ago that "NATO can no longer serve as the sole institution for Atlantic co-operation, its functions are too limited, its core membership too small, and its associated membership too large to deal with the tasks ahead, including even some in the field of security." (H. Kissinger, Does America Need a Foreign Policy, p. 58).

The US and the European Union should, indeed, develop a common forum to discuss and co-ordinate their foreign policies. This forum should especially focus on global issues that transcend the transatlantic framework (Iran, the Middle East, N. Korea, China, Africa). There is, however, a problem when one wants to organise such a transatlantic foreign policy forum. This problem resides at the EU side. It will be easy for the US to send representatives from the State Department, the White House, and, eventually, the Department of Defence to this forum. But who is going to represent the EU?
It is logical that the EU high representative for the common foreign and security policy, who will become a fully fledged EU foreign minister after the ratification of the constitution, will represent the EU together with the president of the Council. The CFSP remains, however, an intergovernmental co-operation that is organised as the second pillar. It is therefore certain that the 'Big Three' will be jealous about their privileged bilateral ties with Washington, which could jeopardise the functioning of such a US-EU forum.

The solution could be to organise this new transatlantic foreign policy forum according the lines of the Security Council. The EU could be represented by its foreign minister and its president. The foreign ministers of the 'Big Three' could be permanent members of this forum, and three or four foreign ministers from the smaller EU member states could rotate on a two-and-a-half year basis (the same period as the president of the Council after the ratification of the constitution).

Published in "The Financial Times" of February 16, 2005