The standoff between NATO and the European Union is one of the most debilitating and shortsighted disputes between the two organizations, whose headquarters are but a twenty-minute bus ride from each other in Brussels.
In the US, where rules on the disclosure are stricter, technology groups report far higher spending on lobbying. Google, for example, spent $8.85m in the first half of 2014 alone in the US – nearly four times what it said it spent lobbying the EU for the whole of 2013. Google declined to comment on this article. But its efforts in Europe are part of its “soft power” approach towards influencing policy makers.
Ten years ago, Robert Kagan famously compared the relationship between the EU and the US to the one between Venus and Mars. Brussels would be the amicable face of the couple wielding its normative influence and soft power potential, in contrast with Washington's aggressive foreign policy. Recent developments, however, have shown that the EU might be giving up its soft politics for a more bellicose stance, at least on Russia.
U.S. President Barack Obama and European Union leaders presented a unified front Wednesday against Russia’s annexation of Crimea, promoting transatlantic trade as an antidote to Russia’s influence in the region and a way to help Europe become less dependent on Moscow for energy.
The new year will see a changing of the guard in Brussels, with top posts at NATO and the major European institutions changing hands. NATO will get a new secretary-general; new presidents will be sought for the EU Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament; and hopefuls will jostle to succeed Catherine Ashton as the EU's foreign-policy chief.