Signor Prodi spoke of Europe being marginalized unless it possessed its own defense forces rather than having to rely so heavily on the United States military.
The British government was shocked by Mr. Prodi's replies to an interview on the BBC's On the Record. John Maples, Conservative Party spokesman on military matters, was pointed in his rejoinder: "This is yet another step towards a European state. The single currency, a single fiscal policy, a common foreign policy and joint armed force constitute a state."
In the wake of recent accidental bombings in Yugoslavia, some have suggested scrapping NATO. Wrote British journalist Robert Fisk: "As a citizen of the new, modern Europe ... I don't want Europe to be 'protected' by the U.S. If that means the end of the Atlantic Alliance, so be it ... Until it is, Europe will never—ever—take responsibility for itself or for the dictators that threaten our society ... Until NATO is dead, there will never be a real European defence force."
The drive for European unity appears to be relentless. While Mr. Prodi spoke of achieving an army separate from NATO, "Germany's [minister for defense] Rudolph Scharping gave a December 2000 deadline for the establishment of a rapid response infrastructure that will end dependence on the U.S.," reported Mr. Fisk.
Actually, NATO itself has already taken a significant step in the direction of such an army. According to a Daily Mail report from Washington, "NATO agreed to make a huge chunk of its military capability available to the European Union to use as it pleases when conflicts flare across the continent." This decision was made during NATO's 50th-anniversary celebration in the United States.
The British are nervous about these developments and say they feel seriously threatened by the steady, unabated erosion of their national sovereignty. Leaders in the highest echelons on the Continent have periodically spoken of a United States of Europe that eventually would wield enormous powers over member states. (Sources: The Times [London]; The Daily Mail [London]; The Independent [London].)