Ladies and gentlemen, your counterweight to the United States

It is the belief of prominent Europeans — and some Americans — that the European Union will emerge as the primary rival to the United States in world politics. Of course, this requres that a) most of the member states have a common set of preferences; b) EU institutions acquire greater material capabilities; and c) ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

It is the belief of prominent Europeans -- and some Americans -- that the European Union will emerge as the primary rival to the United States in world politics. Of course, this requres that a) most of the member states have a common set of preferences; b) EU institutions acquire greater material capabilities; and c) EU official competently administer those resources. I've stated my skepticism on point (a) recently. This Financial Times piece makes me really wonder about point (c):

It is the belief of prominent Europeans — and some Americans — that the European Union will emerge as the primary rival to the United States in world politics. Of course, this requres that a) most of the member states have a common set of preferences; b) EU institutions acquire greater material capabilities; and c) EU official competently administer those resources. I’ve stated my skepticism on point (a) recently. This Financial Times piece makes me really wonder about point (c):

Romano Prodi, European Commission president, on Thursday said he saw no reason to ask any commissioner to quit over the Eurostat affair, amid new evidence that financial irregularities continued long after he took office in 2000. “On the basis of the facts I have outlined, after careful thought and in full awareness of the issues, I consider there is no reason to ask any Commissioner to assume the political responsibility and resign,” Mr Prodi said in a speech to European Parliament leaders, who were questioning him over the affair. Three reports into the financial scandal released on Wednesday night reveal a saga of fake contracts, secret slush funds and huge waste which went unchecked in the Commission for many years. They tell how millions of euros disappeared into the secret accounts, ostensibly to fund additional statistical research. Large sums simply vanished while some money was used to fund staff perks.

This is the continuation of an ongoing scandal from the late 1990’s. It’s not the only scandal involving EU officials, however. Two years ago, Europol — Europe’s top police agency — was raided by Dutch police after it was discovered that some officers had engaged in money laundering. When the leading anti-money laundering unit in Europe is busted for laundering money, you do begin to wonder about the competency of European officialdom. No government is corruption-free. But if Eurocrats can’t handle a €98 billion budget, what happens when their state capacity starts to expand?

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

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