Make Europe Feel Special Again

(In his past three State of the Union addresses, President Barack Obama devoted less than 15 percent of his speech to the world beyond the U.S. So those speech paragraphs are pricey real estate. We asked some Bloomberg View columnists and regular contributors what foreign policy issues they thought the president should raise in the first State of the Union of his second term. Here’s one of the 11 responses.)

U.S. President Barack Obama is famously disinterested in Europe, but if he could spare a line for us in his State of the Union, it should be this: “We value our special relationship with the European Union, made all the more special by the fact that the U.K. is part of it.”

Many of the same Britons clamoring for the U.K. to leave the EU also like to harp on about their country’s so-called special relationship with the U.S. Obama should tell them that’s fine, but please be special inside the EU -- not outside where you aren’t much use to us or anyone.

In a globalized world, where the population of Shanghai is larger than that of several European states, size matters. The U.K. is a useful, like-minded ally at the EU’s top negotiating table, whether the U.S. is trying to persuade Europeans to back sanctions against Iran, sign a U.S.-EU free-trade agreement or watch after our common flanks and allies, whether in Mali, Turkey or Ukraine.

Iraq shattered the myth of a U.S. virtually alone and unbeatable, and the travails of the euro have brought Europe’s self-congratulation back to earth, too. We need one another, but the U.S. needs to use its influence to convince the U.K.’s euro skeptics that out of the EU, the U.K. will be less relevant than inside it. Obama has the moral authority to help -- come and visit us in Europe more often.

(Tim Judah, the Europe correspondent for the World View blog, is a correspondent for the Economist and author of several books on the Balkans. The opinions expressed are his own. This is one of 11 suggestions Bloomberg View columnists made for the foreign policy section of Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Read more here.)

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

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