For an outside look at Europe moving forward, Euronews sought out an American expert in international relations who specialises in the EU: Dr. Kathleen McNamara, an associate professor at Georgetown University.
Euronews: “Symbolism has always been an important part of social architecture… In terms of democratic symbol, what do the EU President and foreign policy chief represent in Washington?” McNamara: “Well I think from Washington that this is an important step forward. But it also has to be viewed as in part the way the EU is today neither nation state nor simply an international organisation, and so we have to be careful not to get too excited about what to expect from this step forward.” Euronews: “Why should anyone in Washington care about the Herman Van Rompuy and Catherine Ashton nominations?” McNamara: “I think the general public is sort of befuddled by the EU. I think the pundits and the media inside the US are often frustrated that it doesn’t act like a nation state. I think more interestingly, the Obama administration is starting to get excited about what the Lisbon Treaty might portend for Europe.” Euronews: “About President Obama… he enjoys a high international approval rating… Van Rompuy’s charisma level, how will that go over in the US?” McNamara: “Well there were some that really did want to see a very charismatic figure, like say a Tony Blair. The New York Times today has written an extremely critical article about this whole process, saying that if, in fact, the Europeans wanted to have a higher profile, they did the opposite by picking the Belgian prime minister. But I think that’s a very short sighted view. I actually think that in the long run a conciliatory person who is able to bring about consensus among widely disparate views is actually a good choice for the EU. And I think in the long run, people inside the Obama administration understand that these are complex issues that they face within the EU — projecting power on the part of these 27 governments is a very complex thing. And so I think that there is some appreciation beyond the sort of high level commentary that you see for maybe having a more incrementalist view of the progress that the EU is now… seems to be making on these issues.”