Europe’s relevance in American eyes is cast in doubt again, with confirmation from Washington that President Barack Obama will not attend the annual EU-US summit this year. Spain had hoped his presence would add lustre to the event it will host as the current EU president, in Madrid this May.
The Wall Street Journal said domestic work made staying at home the priority, and that the European Union will have to wait. US political concerns were said to require less foreign travel. A senior Washington official spoke of valuing “our European allies”, but apparently Obama never planned a Madrid trip.
An analyst in Europe hints banality and credibility both play a role in the decision. Michael Emerson, with the Centre for European Policy Studies, said: “The very important substance of EU-US relations on economic matters would be rather routine business, not really presidential stuff. And as regards real strategic questions, in hard security matters, the EU has not had the competence or authority or legitimacy to take a position.”
Last year, Obama racked up numerous visits to Europe, to establish relationships. Since then, EU reforms brought by the Lisbon Treaty have spread confusion over who is really in charge in Europe. The date for the Madrid summit in May has not been fixed yet.