Yes. It can. If there is a will. But is the EU inspired by any ideal to serve humanity? I?m not sure.
The cold war is not yet over. American is not reconciled to live with such large and powerful states like Russia and China. It wants to break them up. So the continuing intrigues. The cold war can come back again. Perhaps in a worse form. It is America'swar against terror which is keeping the peace of the world. Paradox? Yes.
But America is the target of this terror. We know why? And it explains why no one is willing to back America to the hilt. Not even the EU. Which is why there is cause to raise this question: can EU replace the USA?
It is time the world gave thought to this. Today Europe is not beholden to the USA, neither for its security nor for economic reasons. And the Euro has achieved an exchange stability that has been rare in Europe.
But where is the EU heading? Is it pioneering an alternative model to that of America? Or is it content to share power with America while the going is good? We are not sure.
Britain, France and Germany are the most important countries of the EU. They will shape the future of Europe and, in a way, of the world. But they are peripheral today. Watching from a distance.
The EU is already the largest trading bloc in the world. It controls about 40 per cent of world trade. When all potential members are in, it will become a very powerful factor in global affairs.
The point I want to make is this: the era of single-power hegemony is almost over. Or so it should be. The world cannot entertain the hegemonistic ambitions of large nations. The era of blocs has begun. Will blocs pursue imperialist policies? I doubt it.
The USA, the present hegemon, is already feeling fatigued. This feeling of fatigue is felt not only in matters of peace and security, but also in global economic matters. Thus we have US Treasury Secretary Paul O?Neil telling the world not long ago ?not to rely on the USA as the engine of global growth.?
Can EU step in?
Perhaps. More pertinent are questions like: Is EU ready to give up the benefits of being an ally of the USA. Is it ready to pay for American adventures in the world today? Europe feels not threat from Russia or China. In fact, it is confident it can look after its own security.
It will be recalled that Europe was never reconciled to the dollar as the international currency because it gave unfair advantage to the USA. So, the French seized the first opportunity to challenge the domination of the dollar. The EU floated the Euro. Today the Euro is strong enough to be a reserve currency ?as an alternative to the dollar.
But unless the Euro is more competitive and beneficial, it will not be able to attract countries outside Europe to hold their reserves in Euro. What is more, only then can EU gain weight in the world.
The Euro is not without some advantage in the world. Of the 500 or so corporations in the world, 170-180 are Euro-based, about 160-170 are dollar-based and 140-150 are Yen based. It is clear it is a neck and neck race now.
The EU is India'ssecond largest trading partner, accounting for about 25 per cent of India'sforeign trade. The EU is also the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in India.
The EU has a special consideration for India. It recognises the unique position of India in Asia and in the global context. The French have given more importance to India than to China. Of course, this is not reflected in EU'strade with India at present.
The EU is important to India for political reasons too. The EU and Russia alone can check the American excesses in the world. Only they can act as counter-weights to American power.
It is unfortunate that India has put most of its eggs in the American basket. This is not because India needs any financial or technical assistance from the USA today. In fact, India does not need even assistance in civilian uses of atomic power. And that is precisely why some nations are beginning to think of an alternative to the USA.