Usually, when the topic of European Union foreign policy comes up, responses range from doubts as to whether the 27 - member body can even be said to have a coherent foreign policy, to questions on whether EU foreign policy matters much in a world increasingly dominated by rising powers such as China, India, and Brazil, as well as the United States. But at a Brookings Institution event on April 8th entitled "The Foreign Policy of the European Union: Assessing Results, Ushering in A New Era," panelists sounded a generally optimistic note on the future of a common foreign policy for the EU, and how Europe might still exert a positive influence on the world outside its borders.
Featured speakers at the briefing were Giuliano Amato, former Prime Minister of Italy and Vice President of the European Constitutional Convention; Daniel Hamilton, Director of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies; Andrew Moravcsik, Professor of Politics and Director of the European Union Program at Princeton University; and Pierre Vimont, French Ambassador to the United States. Former Prime Minister Amato noted that Americans are often much more enthusiastic about the EU than are Europeans; however, he asserted that grounds for optimism about the Union do exist. He pointed out that the expansion of the EU to include twelve new nations, ten of which were formerly Communist states, since 2004 illustrates the "transformative power of Europe" and the attraction that the EU holds for non-member states in the region. While Europe can play a positive role outside its own region of the world, Amato said that Europeans will have to work with the U.S. in order to tackle global problems, thus making the transatlantic relationship more important now than ever.