Perils of Global Legalism

Henry Farrell and I discuss my book on bloggingheads.  We briefly touched on the topic whether the EU could be a model for international law (Henry-yes, me-no).  It is interesting in this connection to read the following passage from one of the Economist blogs.

Chinese intellectual curiosity in the EU seemed to peak a few years ago, when in Beijing and Shanghai think tanks grew moderately excited about the idea that Europe was about to adopt a constitution and equip itself with a permanent president and foreign minister. Such European swagger fed into China’s (only natural) desire to see a more multipolar world develop, to replace the post Berlin Wall era of American hegemony.

Then came 2005, and French and Dutch referendums that rejected the draft EU constitution, tipping the union into four years of institutional squabbling that has still not ended. In the meantime, the forces of globalisation, accelerated by the global economic crisis, left the relative decline of Europe as a trading power even more cruelly exposed.

The EU is also exceedingly bad at dealing with Beijing. The 27 member countries undercut and compete among each other for commercial advantage, while the central EU bureaucracy has allowed itself to be bogged down by process (there are scores of EU-China structural dialogues now).

Now, a common Chinese view of Europe amounts to:
–   Europe is in decline but has not come to terms with it.
–   Yet Europe still wants to impose its values on China.
–   There are structural problems in dealing with the EU because of the difficulty in distinguishing EU from member-nation interests.