There are as many reasons for the US to view the European Union as a threat as there are to view it as a beneficial force. Economically, the EU exceeds the US in population and therefore has the potential to become an economic rival, if it has not done so already. The extent to which the EU has come to coordinate common defense policies and structures also poses a potential challenge to NATO, the primary vehicle by which the US has been able to project military influence throughout the world. Further, a key factor precipitating European integration has been an anti-Americanism born of Europe's desire to become independent from US influence and to stand on the same stage in exerting its own geo-political influence.
Ultimately, the official position of the United States has generally been positive toward the European integration project that has taken place over the past several decades. Official American foreign policy has commonly encouraged and praised European efforts to form cooperative economic, political and military institutions to which its constituent nations subscribe. Nevertheless, the challenge that a unified Europe poses for the United States has made unofficial attitudes somewhat less enthusiastic. In the end, whether American attitudes toward European integration are positive or negative will depend largely on whether Europe rises to become a true global challenge to the U.S.
History of European Integration
World War II devastated Europe and provided an impetus for the concept of integration as a pragmatic approach to avoiding similar destructive conflicts in the future. Making the countries of Europe economically interdependent, starting with the traditionally fiercest antagonists, France and Germany, was a potentially effective way to ensure they would avoid conflict in the future. With the Iron Curtain descending across the middle of the continent following the end of the war, the need for Western Europe to consolidate itself was palpable. Of particular importance was the need to bring the new West Germany solidly into the fold of a free Western Europe, as that country was literally on the front lines of the budding Cold War. Thus, the European Coal and Steel Community was born, ratified by six countries including France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands. While on its face, the purpose of the ECSC was to promote economic cooperation in a new Western Europe, the true purpose of this organization was arguably to begin the process of tying together the heart of Europe in an interdependence that would preclude hostilities going forward.
The Franco-German heart of an integrated Europe has been the primary factor prompting increasing integration. A long history of German aggression toward France made clear to the French that an antagonistic relationship with the Germans would no longer be conducive to their security. The Germans, decimated by the war and hobbled by their Nazi legacy, had little choice but to marry the French in a partnership that would ensure their economic strength and military security. "It is difficult not to acknowledge a general perception that the new Europe would be dominated by a Franco-German