GP360 European Union Project

Introduction: EU for Americans

The Culture of the EU

Because it does not have strong centralized
institutions (though they are stronger than some want), and many
decisions require unanimity, the EU has developed a culture of
compromise and coalition. This culture truly permeates all of the EU's
institutions, and this is one reason Americans have so much trouble
understanding it. The American culture today is based on competition.
Partisanship is the highest order and with only two major political
parties, there are no coalitions in the sense they exist in most
European countries.

This culture of compromise and coalition has also
led to a strong rules-based culture. In its interaction with the
outside world, the EU focuses on the rule of law and strengthening
international law and its role in diplomacy. While some say this is
because the EU does not have a significant military component, it
really is mainly because the EU is a very bureaucratic institution, and
bureacrats like their rules. They write them, after all.

It is also important to remember that the process of
European integration was fundamentally based on a desire to create
structures and interdependence that would make another Europe-based
world war impossible. The idea was that a world based on rules rather
than power politics would be less likely to go to war, at least on such
a scale as Europe gave us twice in the 20th century.

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