American Perspectives on Rise of European Union

Alex Chadwick talks about American perspectives on the future of the European Union with T.R. Reid, author of United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Joining us for an American perspective on the European Constitution vote is T.R. Reid. He's now Rocky Mountain bureau chief for The Washington Post, but also author of "The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy."

You know, Tom, I'm looking at that title and thinking maybe you got that wrong.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. T.R. REID (The Washington Post): I refuse to admit that, Alex. No, sir. Well, I think the title's still right in that everything that Europe had last Friday it still had Monday. It still has more people, more GDP, much more trade than the United States does. It's the biggest donor of foreign aid. And I don't think any of that's going to change. I think the big change is kind of psychic. You know, for France to come out against anything European is--you know, it's like Californians coming out against surfing or something. It's just not thinkable.

CHADWICK: Yeah.

Mr. REID: And it really makes you think whether there is any commitment to this federal union in Europe. I think it's still there, but clearly people have complaints about it. The whole European Union, looking back over the last 60 years, was always produced by elites. It started with Winston Churchill and the prime minister of France, and it's always been sort of the elites who ran this. And quite often, when ordinary people get to vote on it, they vote no.

CHADWICK: When you look at this from an American perspective for American listeners here, is this just something that's going on in Europe, or will it make a difference in our lives?

Mr. REID: Boy, that's a good question. I don't think this is going to happen. But if Europe were to fall apart or even if the federal union, the EU, were to get weaker, that could be a problem for the United States because we like the fact that there's another rich, powerful, ambitious organization in the world that's willing to take on some of the jobs we've always been stuck with. You know, when they had that fraudulent election in the Ukraine, it was the EU that went in and straightened things out. We didn't have to do it. They're working in Iran now; they're working with North Korea. So I've argued, in the first place, it gives American manufacturers a huge single market. But in the other hand, if this means that Europe is weaker or less ambitious about taking on global challenges, then that's bad for the US.

CHADWICK: I note that the euro, the European currency, is down after this vote in France. Maybe it's going to go down a little further after today in the Netherlands. Maybe it's just going to be cheaper for American travelers.

Mr. REID: Yeah, a little cheaper, although I have to say, looking at the euro, it costs $1.25 to buy a euro today. Gosh, when I last lived in Europe, I was paying 82 cents for a euro. So our weak dollar has really made Americans poorer vis-a-vis Europe. It's a little better than it was in January--I think the euro's fallen 6 or 7 cents since January and it might fall a little more. So, yeah, if you're going to Europe this summer, it'll be a little cheaper, but believe me, Alex, it's still outrageous to go to Europe because our weak dollar doesn't buy much over there.

CHADWICK: T.R. Reid, Rocky Mountain bureau chief for The Washington Post, author of "The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy."

Tom, thanks.

Mr. REID: Thanks a lot, Alex. Nice talking to you.

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