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Kissinger and the EU phone number

One of the most commonly held urban legends in EU circles is the saying attributed to Henry Kissinger of “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?”. As the FT revealed [*paywall], he never actually said it.


Kissinger Van Rompuy EU call


But how could this notion hold on so long in Brussels and beyond if it’s just a myth?


It’s mostly because EU leaders and policy makers really appreciate when an external diplomat/politician/nation validates their efforts or provide a valid basis for advancing their political agenda. Think of Jeremy Rifkin’s views (from a time when such optimism was warranted) on how the EU offers an alternative to the American Dream.


On the other hand, Europe is still very much viewed as a continent composed of cooperating countries instead of a single EU block of 28 Member States. Just open any newspaper that includes statistics on any issue from health insurance, GDP, mobile phone usage or TV sets per capita: you will hardly see “EU” as a single block but France, Estonia, Slovakia or Portugal instead.


No wonder China or the US seems to do much better than us on several topics – but what if you look at the EU as a whole? Chances are, the EU is winning the Olympic games, GDP per capita or number of citizens with a diploma in more areas than we think, provided we adopt this “single block” approach.


Just like we don’t look at the Shanghai region but China, we could, despite Brexit and internal struggles among the 28 member states, start looking at the EU as a single player in global matters that even Kissinger could call one day.


Posted in EU Affairs, Public Affairs

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