Niklas Nováky Álvaro de la Cruz Defence EU-US Transatlantic Transatlantic relations US
Defence Dialogue Episode 8 – A Reboosted Transatlantic Alliance?
Defence Dialogues - Multimedia
03 Feb 2021
Who knew that the negative impacts of Brexit could be so easily mitigated by Ireland? After years of conjuring up vistas of hard borders and economic wastelands, Dublin now seems ready, willing, and able to embark on a beautiful European dream.
But such views bely a worrying naivety about Ireland’s real economic and cultural dependencies.
Because Brexit won’t make Ireland more European. It won’t usher in a new dawn of Irish diversification across Europe.
Rather, it will simply reinforce Ireland’s dependence on an Anglo-American economic model. A model which has become the backbone of Ireland’s entire approach to job creation, taxation, and education.
What Brexit actually means is that Ireland is about to get a whole lot more British.
In reality, the recent Brexit trade agreement condemns the British to a process of constant negotiation with the EU. Talks about market access (for the vast majority of the British economy, like financial services) will be a process of perpetual motion. This will be topped off with annual bust-ups over fish quotas and accusations of bullying behaviour from both sides.
Like the Swiss before them, Downing Street will discover the technocratic underbelly of the EU’s Single Market rules-making machine.
But in Ireland’s case, such a degree of uncertainty for British businesses has clear implications. Namely, that Dublin will – slowly, but discernibly – become the focus of British activity in attempting to influence, lobby, cajole, and circumvent barriers to providing services in the EU.
Take Dublin’s Irish Financial Services Centre (IFSC). The success of Ireland’s entire financial services industry was originally based on operating as a satellite location for the City of London. Even today, for all the talk about global diversification, 65% of funds domiciled in Dublin originate from fund managers in Britain or the US. This will likely increase in the years ahead as both New York and London seek the certainty of an operational base in the EU.
Nor will this trend be limited to financial services. Legal advisory services and entertainment/audio-visual services (due to French insistence on excluding British-based providers) are among several sectors where Britain’s presence in Ireland will further increase. Britain is home to about 30% of all TV channels in the EU. Ireland is ideally suited to allow them to continue to operate on a pan-European basis.
In some ways, it’s like the 1930s all over again. Back then, the Irish government sought to use legislation to ensure that new manufacturing industries would be Irish-owned. The dreams were of self-sufficiency and lessening dependence on Britain. The reality turned out to be the establishment of a plethora of British-controlled subsidiaries in Ireland.
British influence on the Irish economy simply continued on in an altered form.
Only by balancing Ireland’s embedded position in the Anglo-American economy with our membership of the EU can Dublin ever hope to build a sustainable, successful, and truly European Irish state.
One other characteristic of the Irish economy will serve to magnify Britain’s role in Ireland in the coming years. Namely, Dublin’s support of US policy priorities on a Brussels stage. Hardly surprising, given that well over 10% of all jobs in Ireland are tied to US multinationals.
But the US also remains a key element of Britain’s more globalist strategy. So Ireland will become the perfect location for an Anglo-US rapprochement, even under an openly pro-Irish President Biden. Shared economic interests – lower business taxes, softer data protection laws, more languid financial regulation – will drive further investments in Ireland as a conduit to influence EU decision-making and restore London’s relations with Washington.
Ireland has proved a reliable cypher for US goals in the past. Brexit will simply enlarge this role to act as a combined Anglo-American advocate on a European stage. Make no mistake, the structure of Ireland’s economy is not continental, it is a distinctly Anglosphere construct, significantly different from the more statist model prevalent in most of Europe.
In Brussels, these trends (and Ireland’s past behaviours) will ultimately reveal a more peripheral and more distrusted Ireland. This view, despite the grandiose protestations of solidarity from the continent, will drive the EU’s engagement with Ireland in the coming years as it seeks to capitalise on the current momentum for deeper integration.
In reality, Ireland’s European future will not be determined by how many continental languages are introduced into the Irish education system, what proportion of Irish exports go to the EU27, or by how many student exchanges Dublin liberally funds (such as students from Northern Ireland).
Rather, it is only by balancing Ireland’s embedded position in the Anglo-American economy with our membership of the EU that Dublin can ever hope to build a sustainable, successful, and truly European Irish state. Ireland should take the lead in developing and leading proposals on issues like data protection and corporate taxes; issues which currently limit the ability of the EU, the UK, and the US to successfully shape global norms.
It’s time Ireland stopped being afraid of Europe. And started believing in the globalist, fair trading model, upon which its prosperity largely lies.
However, the quest to become more European cannot ignore the much longer-term economic relationships that link Ireland to Washington and London. Ironically, far from setting Ireland free from Britain, Brexit will do much to remind Dublin of the older economic ties that bind.Eoin Drea Brexit Economy EU-US
Ireland is About to Get a Whole Lot More British
20 Jan 2021
Last week’s scenes at the U.S. Capitol sent shockwaves across the world, delighting America’s adversaries and bringing sorrow to those who normally look up to the majesty of American democracy. The rioting and vandalism in the halls of Congress was a shock to Americans, too. Even President Trump, who incited the mob earlier that day, was reportedly displeased with the “low class” imagery of his violent supporters.
The key question facing Americans and America’s allies is seemingly simple. Did 6 January represent a peak, or breaking point, of worrisome trends that accelerated during the Trump presidency – or was it just another iteration of a process that risks escalating further in the coming years?
The fact that the underlying institutions held firm, the soul-searching demonstrated by Republicans, as well as Trump’s own promise (however half-hearted) to ensure a peaceful transition of power all suggest that the worst may be over.
One imaginable parallel is with the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum in June 2016, which came shortly after the heinous murder of Jo Cox. The success of the Leave campaign did not herald the beginning of a new dark age for Britain. If anything, the referendum was a culmination of a frivolous and irresponsible populist era and it was followed by the increasingly intrusive reality of Brexit’s practical implications. Whatever one thinks of the final outcome, or of Boris Johnson’s leadership, British politics today appear – to this observer at least – far more ‘normal’ and sedate than in the spring days of 2016.
Trump’s departure from the scene would increase the odds of a similar outcome in the United States. Last week’s violence did not occur spontaneously. Its causes included weeks of delegitimisation of the election’s outcome, by the President, by his campaign, and by prominent Republican lawmakers– all of that on top of years of toxic, grievance-mongering rhetoric that fuelled Trump’s candidacy and presidency.
After last week, the prospect of Trump’s continued control over the GOP has become weaker. Similarly, because of their close association and open support for Wednesday’s ‘putsch’, Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, the most unhinged demagogues within the party, have seen their chances of running successfully in the 2024 election take a hit. Maybe, perhaps, the fever is breaking.
Ultimately, it is up to American citizens and American leaders to decide which of the two scenarios – recovery or a continuing crisis of democracy – materialises.
Despite this, neither Americans nor America’s friends should get overly euphoric. The single most dispiriting fact about last week’s events at the Capitol is that after the building was stormed and thrashed by a mob seeking to overturn the election, 138 Republicans in the House – or 65 percent of the GOP caucus – still voted to reject the slate of electors from Pennsylvania. Worryingly, in a YouGov poll conducted on the day of the ‘putsch’, 45% of Republican voters agreed with the storming of the Capitol.
Joe Biden will not be the first president whose claim to power will not be recognised as legitimate by a sizeable chunk of the electorate because of deliberate efforts by his opponents. In fact, one has to go back to George H.W. Bush to find a U.S. president whose legitimacy was not seriously contested by the other side. Bill Clinton faced impeachment. George W. Bush was elected by the narrowest of margins in Florida and numerous conspiracy theories proliferated about his re-election in 2004. Barack Obama was the target of the popular birther conspiracy (propelled, among others, by Donald Trump). And, of course, many ‘explained’ Trump’s election in 2016 by Russia’s interference in the election and cheered on as congressional Democrats sought to impeach and remove Trump from office.
The point is not to relitigate the past nor to draw moral equivalencies. There is no question that the events on Capitol Hill were far worse than essentially any event in modern U.S. politics. Neither is there any doubt about the party and the politicians who bear responsibility for this singular attack on democratic institutions. However, when examined from a historical perspective, this episode is just another escalation in a cycle that has gone on for some time and can be reasonably expected to continue.
Last week’s violence was not without precedent. In April last year, heavily armed men (“very good people,” according to Trump) “protested” inside Michigan’s Capitol building. The FBI later thwarted a far-right plot to kidnap the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer. And, of course, incidents that accompanied the Black Lives Matter protests in the spring and summer resulted in at least $1 billion in damage across major US cities. Without drawing any moral equivalencies, there are good reasons to be concerned that escalating street violence may become a periodic fixture of American political life.
Ultimately, it is up to American citizens and American leaders to decide which of the two scenarios – recovery or a continuing crisis of democracy – materialises. Whatever policy disagreements one may have with President-elect Biden, there can be no question about the sincerity of his efforts to de-escalate, heal, and bring Americans together. But turning a page will be neither easy nor immediate, and Europeans have to plan accordingly. Importantly for Europe, as the British writer Ben Judah tweeted on the day of America’s embarrassing ‘putsch’ attempt, “After this the whole of tone of American, yes Biden’s foreign policy, needs to change: humility, a lower voice, less zeal. It is not just credibility. It is on America now to prove to its allies it is a reliable entity before it can host a Summit for Democracy or take on China.”
Dalibor Roháč is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. and a research associate at the Martens Centre. Twitter: @DaliborRohac.Dalibor Roháč Elections EU-US Leadership
American Democracy at a Crossroads: a Time for Healing
11 Jan 2021
The events that occurred in and around the Capitol on the day of the Epiphany are appalling, revolting, and unacceptable to normal and responsible people.
This was the feeling that was reflected in the statements made by various Congresspeople, both direct, imperilled participants of the drama, and former Members of Congress. By common accord, politicians of both camps – Democrats and Republicans – expressed anger and reprobation. This is important, positive, and necessary.
In one statement that I found particularly fitting, a congressman said that a person inciting others to commit violence is not a leader. A leader is a person who has the strength and courage to tell voters the truth, however inconvenient. Such a truth as ‘I lost the election and it is my duty to transfer power’.
What is ironic about the terrifying experience of storming the Capitol, and the outrage felt and expressed by honest, fair, and responsible politicians, is the realisation that many of them also have their share of responsibility in the gradual polarisation of American society and the emotions associated to that. This goes for both camps, Republican and Democrat.
The American political elites have for years ignored the accumulating economic, social, and political problems in the United States. These problems became especially serious towards the end of the first decade of this millennium, with the outbreak of the financial and economic crisis. Since then, governments have piled up and pushed the problems facing them further away, rather than resolving them. They disregard the anxieties and fears of those who are losing jobs, who are weaker, poorer, sick, or disabled. They ignore the problems of the middle class and of young families.
Rather than implementing necessary reforms, an important part of the political class has, for years, styled itself as the elite that has the right and even the prerogative to judge others, to moralise, and even to denounce those who have not been sufficiently “aware”, “modern,” or “progressive”. In other words: politically correct.
The third factor fanning these flames are the pivotal changes linked to globalisation, especially the changes related to technological progress and immigration. Those who made their voices heard to shout: ‘Hey, not so many (changes), and not so fast!’ were immediately labelled by the elite as homophobes, right-wing extremists, or even fascists. Yet, it is clearly not easy for many of us to come to terms with the existing and expected pace of change, adapt to new labour market demands and opportunities, or cope with the cultural implications of these processes.
Trump did nothing else than pull the cork. Before doing so, he vigorously shook the bottle. Time will tell who was the hardest hit by the cork.
The new American president faces a difficult mission: to unite America and to breathe upon it the spirit of hope and promise. Joe Biden should not be too overjoyed with the fact that, in addition to the House, Democrats also gained control of the Senate. A slim House majority and the tightest majority in the Senate doesn’t change the fact that the country is divided, and passions are running high. Trump is leaving, but millions of his voters remain. If Joe Biden places his wager on the moderates – not only those from among the Republican Party, but also those in his own party, America has a chance for catharsis, that would make it even greater and stronger. This is also in our interest, the European interest.Mikuláš Dzurinda EU-US Leadership Society Transatlantic
USA – Catharsis, or Beginning of the End?
08 Jan 2021
The images of alt-right rioters breaking into the Capitol, of Congresspeople rushed to safety like on 9/11, of weapons drawn and people killed in the heart of American democracy (and a beacon of the Free World), will remain with us for a long time. They certainly will be the defining visual memory of Donald Trump’s four years in office. But the more pressing question now is whether this is the beginning of the end of American democracy, or rather the beginning of the end of a bad patch in US politics. And on the global scale, whether this is another blow for a West in terminal decline, or a low point for global democracy from which things can only improve. I propose to tackle these questions in three steps: looking at what happened and why, what it means for US politics over the next couple of years, and what the implications are for freedom across the globe.
What this was – and what it wasn’t
Let’s be frank but also precise: This was a riot, not an attempted coup d’état. It was a riot in the worst thinkable place, and the symbolism was devastating, especially in its global implications. But whatever Trump and his supporters may have hoped for, it did not have the slightest chance of succeeding to overturn the election results, let alone abolish American democracy. The fact that the certification of the election results continued until late at night, after and precisely because of the attempted interruption, is actually a sign of health of the rule of law in the US. There is more: The way both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence finally manned up to openly counter Trump’s narrative; also, Pence stepping up to call in the DC National Guard after the President’s initial refusal or hesitation; and, what is too easily forgotten amid the outrage at the Capitol’s storming: the victory of both Democratic Senate candidates in the Georgia runoff, securing the Biden administration a much better chance at governing effectively. All of this indicates that American democracy is intact, despite Trump and his aiders and abettors. Because one thing should be clear: yesterday’s riot was a consequence of years of creating ‘alternate facts’ and vilifying checks and balances.
The future of US politics
While it is still early to predict the impact of the Trump presidency and its ignominious ending, my take is that January 6, 2021, has made it easier for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to reform the United States. That is not only because the Republicans lost their Senate majority, but also because the Republican Party is now more deeply split than just two days ago. Despite the whataboutism (‘…and the BLM violence?’) and the conspiracy theories (about alleged antifa agents provocateurs) of mainstream Republicans: the number of Republican leaders who are finally taking a stand against Trump has multiplied. They will be duly condemned by the Trumpists and their fanbase which, thanks to the President’s lies, will remain strong. The Trump wings will either remain in the Republican Party, or fade into irrelevance because of the American electoral system which makes third parties essentially impossible. While a return to the ‘responsible Republicanism’ of the days of Reagan and (partly) Bush can unfortunately be excluded, also because of recent socioeconomic and demographic changes in the US, a takeover of the party by the Trump clan has become equally unlikely. In any case, the civil war that many European commentators are now fantasising about, is simply not on the cards.
Open society and its enemies
In the global context, at first sight, last night’s images are at least as devastating as they are domestically. Chinese government propaganda and other authoritarians are rejoicing at the opportunity to mock the West and predict its demise. And indeed, the ability of Americans to ‘preach’ democracy to the rest of the world has taken a hit. Now America’s partners have to step up and share more of the burden. Fortunately, with a US government which will actually appreciate allies, listen to and cooperate with them, this will become easier than at any time in the past four years. This is especially true for the concept of a global Alliance of Democracies, designed to counter-balance a global authoritarianism, which increasingly falls under Chinese leadership.
Like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 – almost 80 years ago now – this Day of Infamy has shaken the West. This time, the enemy came from within, which is a stark reminder that all democracies are vulnerable from internal radicals and populists, as well as from external authoritarian powers, and most of all from the collusion of both. Which is why they must not tolerate intolerance, to paraphrase Karl Popper. Last night, after a couple of chaotic hours, the American Capitol was successfully defended. Now we all have to defend ours.Roland Freudenstein Elections EU-US Leadership
A Day of Infamy for the West – But a Bright Light at the End of the Tunnel
07 Jan 2021
And so it begins again. The murals, the tales of famine ships and Irish ancestry, the cousins and those awkward renaming ceremonies played out live on Irish TV. President-elect Biden will appoint a high-profile ambassador to Ireland, bowls of shamrock will be exchanged at the White House, and the razzmatazz of a Presidential visit will briefly enliven another Irish summer.
Ireland will gladly re-emerge as the focus of an authentic (and highly personalised) US interest. Irish politicians are already busy displaying their Biden selfies on social media like some weird badge of honour.
Alas, such a childlike embrace of the American dream is not without its consequences for Ireland’s future in the EU. Because in Brussels, Ireland is increasingly seen as a cypher for US business interests, pushing an agenda of lighter regulation, low (or preferably zero) taxes, and minimal data protections.
Unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating.
No more coded messages at diplomatic level. EU policymakers are now explicit. Ireland cannot be trusted on matters which directly impact US business interests, particularly those of US technology companies.
Take the recent confirmation hearings of Commissioner McGuinness at the European Parliament. McGuinness – perhaps Ireland’s most accomplished performer in Brussels over the last decade – was approved overwhelmingly. The only proviso being that she wouldn’t “let her Irish background hold her back on taxation and tax transparency issues”.
In effect, the age of Ireland’s traditional gambit – providing US investment a foothold in the EU while facilitating their more “aggressive” tax policies – has already passed. A combination of the Panama papers, Brexit, and COVID have ensured that the EU is now focused on a tighter, more centralised Union.
In this more continental future, Ireland is a clear outlier. And that’s why Ireland is increasingly shepherded away from the EU’s inner circle on critical digital regulation or data protection issues. Commissioner McGuinness’ portfolio has been carefully crafted by Brussels to avoid all aspects of a wider, more global reach.
The problem is not that Ireland actively pursues strong political and economic relations with the US. Given the shared history, it’s the obvious strategy. It’s also the strategy that has created jobs, boosted tax revenues and built real, global-level expertise across Ireland’s regions.
Rather, the issue is that the goal of protecting US investment in Ireland (and the wider political relationship with Washington) has become so rigid, such an intrinsic part of the establishment consensus, that is has now started to compromise the ability of Ireland to operate successfully in the EU.
This rigidity is reflected in Ireland’s static approach to EU proposals, on everything from digital taxes to business tax harmonisation. In Brussels’ eyes, this rigidity stands in marked contrast to the flexibility Dublin displays whenever Google or Amazon call government offices.
And this is already a huge problem. The European Commission’s continued commitment to challenging Ireland’s taxation agreements with Apple signifies a much more robust and determined EU challenge. It’s the first step, not the final shot.
That is not to say that Ireland needs to pick a side in the vacuous Boston or Berlin debate. Ireland’s membership of the EU and its embrace of US investment are not mutually exclusive goals. Rather, they are complementary ones.
But to succeed in both requires political capital to be expended in Boston and Berlin. It requires that the soothing rhetoric (so beloved by Irish politicians) about the EU’s importance to Ireland be accompanied by a realistic Irish vision for the future of Europe.
A vision which will hopefully be announced by the Irish government in the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe which begins at the European Council summit.
Dublin seems to have forgotten that it is Ireland’s membership of the EU’s Single Market that is the biggest magnet for US investment in the Emerald Isle; Not an American President who happens to have Irish heritage.
Ireland’s response to Biden’s election signifies that Mary Harney may have been right in arguing that Ireland is “spiritually” closer to the US than Europe. Even allowing for the relief of a Trump defeat, Ireland’s active engagement in US politics stands in marked contrast to the increasing apathy displayed towards Brussels and continental European politics generally (bailouts, Brexit, and naughty Commissioners notwithstanding).
In many respects, Ireland risks repeating Britain’s mistakes with Europe. In becoming ever more obsessed with a globalised economy (and a perceived “special relationship” with the US), Dublin may inadvertently reduce its relationship with the EU to purely transactional terms.
And that would be a disaster for both Ireland and Europe.
In the leafy Ballsbridge suburb of Dublin stands the old Allied Irish Bank – AIB – office, which is currently being extended to provide for Facebook’s largest European campus. In many ways, the last decade has seen Ireland swap big banks for big tech as the symbol of its economic progress. But while AIB ultimately cost the Irish taxpayer a 20 billion euro bailout, Ireland’s naïve embrace of Facebook and the American dream may end up costing an awful lot more.Eoin Drea Elections EU-US Transatlantic
American Dreams now risk Ireland’s European Future
15 Dec 2020
It’s been said after the US election that if outer space could transmit sound waves, someone standing on the surface of the moon could have heard a thunderous sigh of relief from Europe – and most of the world – on 7 November, around midday Eastern Time. And sure enough, immediately the debate started whether across the Atlantic, we will just see an improvement in tone, or whether there would be substantial Transatlantic warming. This debate overlapped with another controversy: Whether Europe would have to decouple entirely (sooner or later) – or make a stronger contribution in order to reinforce the relationship and make it sustainable for the future.
Neither of these debates is entirely new. But the change in the White House is adding a new salience to them. This op-ed argues that the chance for a Transatlantic Renewal goes far beyond a warmer atmosphere between Europe and North America, and that decoupling from the US is neither possible nor desirable. In contrast, the chances for Europe taking on more responsibility, and thereby strengthening the Transatlantic partnership and alliance, are better than at any point in the last 20 years. Let’s take a look at the areas where consensus is relatively easy and success probable, the fields where things will be more difficult but success equally indispensable, and finally at the mid-term future of the relationship.
Fighting COVID together will be the most immediate joint priority, and the news about a vaccine enhances the chances for this to bear fruit very soon. The Paris Climate Agreement is the other issue where cooperation will replace mutual frustration very soon. Biden’s announcement of an American return to the Agreement is great news. Global institutions should be the next area where US isolationism will make way for a constructive approach: re-engaging with the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization while closely cooperating with Europeans to make both fit for the 21st century, and opposing the advance of authoritarianism. On many regional issues, from Russia to the Middle East, cooperation will qualitatively improve. Finally, Biden’s announced global ‘Alliance of Democracies’ should be greeted with enthusiasm by the EU. The only way for liberal democracies to push back against an increasing authoritarian pressure whose global cheerleader is now the Chinese Communist Party, is to cooperate, coordinate, and exchange best practices, ranging from fighting hostile influence to global democracy support.
Three big topics will require more effort: trade, defence, and China. Biden/Harris will have the Republicans breathing down their necks on all three. Nevertheless, the chances of a new Transatlantic deal on trade and investment are good. Remember, TTIP failed not primarily in the US, but in Europe. Defence may well be the most persistent issue where, after an initial exchange of niceties, the risk of protracted US frustration is highest. Post-COVID, those EU countries which haven’t reached the two-percent-of GDP goal in defence spending of 2014 are unlikely to reach it anytime soon. Europeans within NATO should focus on continuous nuclear sharing, and assume tasks like naval and airspace surveillance and better airlift capacities, also improving their ability to secure Europe’s neighbourhood without always calling Uncle Sam for help. On China, finally, Europe and the US may not be able to agree on an identical strategy, but they can now very well formulate a common core agenda which allows for different approaches while remaining in coordination. Germany will have to rethink its transactional approach and somehow drop Huawei out of its 5G network building, if values mean anything to us. What will be decisive is the common definition of China as a systemic rival, and future competition with China not as a ‘geopolitical’ conflict but as part of a global struggle between liberal democracy and authoritarianism.
Why time is of the essence
Joe Biden will, in all likelihood, remain a one-term President simply for age reasons. But he is currently the most Atlanticist powerful Democrat now. Already Kamala Harris – from California – has a much more ‘Pacific’ outlook, and less experience in, and therefore attachment to, Transatlantic affairs. True, the new administration’s foreign policy will be dominated by ‘2021 Democrats’, who believe in global democracy and want the US to re-engage. This cannot be said about elements of the left wing of the Democratic Party, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is predicted by some to have a bright future in US politics. And then there is the scenario of a continuously Trumpist Republican Party coming to power in 2028, maybe in 2024, and possibly gaining influence as soon as the 2022 midterm elections – but in any case, remaining a national-populist working-class party, powerful even in opposition. All this means that Europeans and the Biden administration have to seize the moment now, and create a framework in which Europe proves its added value to the US much more clearly, also in the future – and which even less internationalist American leaders will hesitate to destroy.
Above all, Europeans now have to beware of three things: complacency, delusion, and defeatism. It would be complacent to lean back and trust the warmer Transatlantic tone to turn into substance by itself. That would backfire badly. We have to put meat on the bone ourselves; no one will do it for us. Delusionary is the idea that Europeans can guarantee their own security and prosperity without a strong Transatlantic bond anytime soon – and that means for decades. The risk of defeatism, finally, lurks in a cash-strapped post-COVID Europe aware of its shortcomings, unwilling to invest in any alliance, and therefore incapable of standing up to autocrats. It would mean burying the hatchet with Putin, the Chinese Communist Party, and their fanbase inside the EU, because all other options are thought to be exhausted. In other words, the officially certified end of Europe, as a community based on values. This bleak scenario can only be avoided in a clear-sighted, determined, and concerted effort to ‘grab history by the coattails’, as Helmut Kohl would have put it, and work on a Transatlantic Renewal now.Roland Freudenstein Defence EU-US Leadership Transatlantic
Let’s Seize the Chance for a Transatlantic Renewal!
10 Nov 2020
Michael Werz Roland Freudenstein EU-US
The Week in 7 Questions with Michael Werz
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
05 Nov 2020
Constantine Arvanitopoulos Roland Freudenstein EU-US
Online Event ‘Implications of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election for the EU’
Live-streams - Multimedia
05 Nov 2020
The US presidential election on 3 November is likely to be consequential for America’s future and leadership on the world stage. However, it will also have implications for the EU as the two main candidates, President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden, have different visions for the future of transatlantic relations and EU-US cooperation.Defence Elections EU-US Transatlantic
Implications of the 2020 US Presidential Election for the EU
27 Oct 2020
Today’s surprise guest is Lithuanian MEP Andrius Kubilius! Don’t miss his 7 answers to Roland Freudenstein on Belarus, Putin’s Russia, or the coming US Election between Biden and Trump.Roland Freudenstein Andrius Kubilius EU-Russia EU-US
The Week in 7 Questions with Andrius Kubilius
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
23 Oct 2020
Dalibor Rohac is today’s surprise guest! Don’t miss his 7 answers to Roland Freudenstein questions on the White House Coronavirus scandal, the US Presidential Election 2020, and Transatlantic Relations.Roland Freudenstein Dalibor Roháč Elections EU-US Transatlantic
The Week in 7 Questions with Dalibor Roháč
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
09 Oct 2020
This week’s surprise guest is Mark Strand, President of the Congressional Institute, and he spoke with Roland Freudenstein about the July 4th celebrations, the Mount Rushmore, and the Transatlantic Relations.Roland Freudenstein EU-US Transatlantic
The Week in 7 Questions with Mark Strand
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
10 Jul 2020
Since the end of the Second World War, every US administration has promoted European recovery, transatlantic cooperation, and joint defence. Common interests, together with common principles and values, constituted the bedrock of the post-war partnership between Europe and the US. NATO became an alliance of both interests and values.
Today, however, the transatlantic partnership is facing a new set of challenges. Of these, two are of particular importance: one external, the other internal. The external challenge concerns the rise of two great revisionist powers, Russia and China, as well as Islamic terrorism. The internal challenge is the declining willingness of the US to defend the international order it has created and the fracturing of the core of this system. These global shifts are forcing the Atlantic partnership to re-examine its common interests, its common values, its capabilities, and its strategic objectives.
This event aimed to discuss EU-US relations during the Trump administration and how this alliance will evolve after the pandemic. Moreover, how the triangle US-EU-China affects the balance of the international system and how the Western World can defend its values and interests, vis-à-vis emerging political and economic powers.Margherita Movarelli Constantine Arvanitopoulos EU-US Transatlantic
Online Event ‘What is Next? The Future of Transatlantic Relations after the Pandemic’
Live-streams - Multimedia
03 Jun 2020
Do not miss Constanze Stelzenmüller from The Brookings Institution making some very interesting points about EU and US politics, such as the 2020 Presidential campaign between Trump and Biden.Constanze Stelzenmüller Roland Freudenstein EU-US Transatlantic
The Week in 7 Questions with Constanze Stelzenmüller
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
29 May 2020
The view of the chair of the Federal Reserve in the United States – Jay Powell – that “for the economy to fully recover, people will have to be fully confident. And that may have to await the arrival of a vaccine” belies the stark economic realities facing the US economy over the next 12 to 18 months.
For the United States – an economy where consumer spending accounts for over 70% of its activity – the risks of a long, slow, grinding economic recovery are immense. Multi-trillion dollar Federal support programmes for workers and businesses will never fully replace the absence of comprehensive social supports at state level, nor full-time employment income.
With unemployment at rates not seen since the Great Depression, an uncoordinated public health response at federal level and increasing political polarisation it is clear that American companies and workers will require more trillion dollar support packages in the future. The immediate economic consequence is obvious. By the end of 2021, the US will have a federal debt to GDP ratio much closer to Greece than to Germany.
The enthusiasm of many US Governors to reopen their states as quickly as possible (regardless of public health advice) will not supply the economic adrenaline shot so desperately desired by many policymakers in Washington. Even the most minimal of social distancing requirements will reduce consumption across almost all sectors of the US economy. In many sectors, such as hospitality, it will continue to have a disastrous impact for the foreseeable future.
Two further factors will further undermine the ability of the US to recover in the short term, regardless of states restarting economic activity. First, is the impact of the pandemic in reducing consumer confidence, particularly for those who are retired and most at risk from the Coronavirus.
These “baby boomers” are an important driver of consumption in the US. They are also heavily dependent on US federal payments (such as Medicare) and are hugely overexposed to US equities (37% of the US stock market is owned by retirement funds). This combination of health risk, federal transfers and stock market uncertainty will likely exacerbate, not alleviate, declining consumer confidence in the months and (possibly) years ahead.
Second, is the false hope that restarting the export economy will help restore jobs and confidence to huge swathes of the US economy. As we are already seeing across the US (and indeed globally) the restarting of production in industries such as automotive and aeronautical will be largely dependent on international demand. Boeing – a key US industrial champion – has already cut its employee numbers by 10% as it seeks to deal with the dramatic fall in demand for air travel. These cutbacks will be repeated across most other economic sectors. There will be no quick return to a 2019 “normal”.
But perhaps the biggest danger to prospects of a robust US economic recovery has been the dramatic politicisation of the federal support system.
In an unprecedented health crisis such as the Coronavirus, Europeans have long assumed that the US federal model of government would act as a stabilising force for the states hit worst by the pandemic. It was this “transfer union” which European economists believed signalled the superiority of the US model of currency union when compared to the disjointed and overly complicated Eurozone model.
And indeed the US federal government has provided trillions of dollars of relief to businesses and workers. But the political cost has been significant. And the long term economic damage may be incalculable.
Mitch McConnell’s stated aversion to “blue state bailouts” highlights just how politically tinged the U.S. federal system has become. “Well run states should not bail out poorly run states” has become the new mantra of President Trump. Solidarity is fast becoming another American rarity, just like balanced budgets and social mobility
But the very real danger for the US is that a politicised federal support system further deepens mistrust of central government and reduces the effectiveness of federal spending in limiting the damage to, and then restarting, the US economy.
During the Great Depression, the Detroit riots of unemployed Ford workers in 1932 so startled policymakers that it resulted in the swift development of a property-owning working class (facilitated by cheap federal mortgages). It is the societal model which still dominates in the US and in much of the world today. The point is that economic upheaval of the scale we are now experiencing will have far-reaching, and often unintended, economic and societal consequences.
Perils abound for the US in a slow, faltering and overly politicised economy recovery. Europe should take note.Eoin Drea Crisis Economy EU-US Society
Perils for the US in a slow and faltering economic recovery
19 May 2020
Today’s episode with Benjamin Haddad, on topics related to COVID-19 and US politics, such as the Presidential Election this November.Roland Freudenstein Benjamin Haddad COVID-19 EU-US
The Week in 7 Questions with Benjamin Haddad
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
01 May 2020
A podcast series that aims to challenge commonly held assumptions about the European project in a tour de force through European history, culture and civilisation. Podcast host Federico Ottavio Reho redefines political correctness with the help of razor-sharp arguments and beautifully drawn historical parallels.Federico Ottavio Reho Christian Democracy Democracy EU Member States EU-Russia EU-US European Union
[Europe Out Loud] “The light that failed?” a chat with Ivan Krastev
Europe out Loud - Multimedia
10 Apr 2020
The Martens Centre was delighted to host Ivan Krastev and MEP Radosław Sikorski in a conversation on the alleged divisions between Eastern and Western member states. Based on the book The Light that Failed, Stephen Holmes and Ivan Krastev argue that the supposed end of history turned out to be only the beginning of an Age of Imitation. The Bulgarian author together with EPP’s MEP Sikorski answered the question why did the West, after winning the Cold War, lose its political balance?
What do you think? Give us your opinion!Mikuláš Dzurinda Roland Freudenstein EU Member States EU-Russia EU-US
Event ‘The Light that Failed’ in Brussels
Live-streams - Multimedia
04 Mar 2020
Since the end of the Second World War, every US administration has promoted European recovery, transatlantic cooperation and joint defence. Common interests, together with common principles and values, constituted the bedrock of the post-war partnership between Europe and the US. NATO became an alliance of both interests and values.
Today, however, the transatlantic partnership is facing a new series of challenges. Of these, two are of particular importance: one external, the other internal. The external challenge concerns the rise of two great revisionist powers, Russia and China, as well as Islamic terrorism. The internal challenge is the declining willingness of the US to defend the international order it created and the fracturing of the core of this system. These global shifts are forcing the Atlantic partnership to re-examine its common interests, its common values, its capabilities and its strategic objectives.
This paper argues that there is a need for a new grand bargain that would lead to a more equal transatlantic partnership. The goals are stronger trade relationships through revitalised negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and a more even defence relationship that addresses both the question of burden sharing and the disparity in military capability between Europe and the US.EU-US Foreign Policy Trade Transatlantic
The Renewal of Vows: A New Transatlantic Chapter for Europe and America
08 Aug 2019
Irregular immigration is emerging as a threat to the political stability of the EU. This is because the EU’s asylum and immigration system has been overly tolerant towards irregular migration. Despite a dramatic decrease in the number of migrants and refugees coming to Europe, the need remains to instil in the European public a sense that the EU border is properly guarded and that the number of illegal border crossings—as one aspect of irregular migration—is being reduced.
In the short to medium term, the EU should help to ensure the protection of the refugees who are hosted in other countries. The EU should resettle the most vulnerable refugees through legal channels at the expense of irregular migration movements. The EU’s external border needs to be vigilantly policed in order to increase public confidence in the EU’s migration policy. Over the long term, the EU should set itself the goal of enlarging the area of functioning migration and asylum governance.EU-US Immigration North Africa Security
Reducing Irregular Migration Flows through EU External Action
12 Mar 2019
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Washington Treaty, which created NATO in 1949 and laid the foundations for the modern transatlantic relationship. Since then, the US and Europe have achieved much together: the Soviet Union has been relocated into history’s dustbin, Winston Churchill’s metaphorical Iron Curtain has come down, and the risk of nuclear Armageddon has faded. Not a bad resume.
Although the world has changed, the transatlantic relationship remains as vital as ever. Through its war against Ukraine and hostile influence operations on both sides of the Atlantic, Russia has made it clear that it wants to be seen as a revisionist power and as an adversary of the West. An increasingly powerful and assertive China is also challenging the existing liberal international order, which the US helped to create with its allies after World War II. These challenges require common transatlantic solutions.
Yet, the transatlantic bond is arguably weaker today than at any moment since 1949. Both sides are to blame for this. Concerning the US, President Donald J. Trump has alienated many of America’s European allies through his hostile rhetoric. The President has shocked Europeans by calling the EU a foe and arguing—wrongly—that it was set up to take advantage of the US economically. Europeans have also been disturbed by his alleged desire to quit NATO, a move that would hand Russia the biggest grand strategic prize it could imagine.
European Atlanticists are also dismayed by Trump’s affinity for European populists and ethno-nationalists. His world view seems often closer to that of former UK Independence Party leader and Brexit architect Nigel Farage than that of German Chancellor Angela Markel. This is evident, for example, from the administration’s hostility towards the EU.
In December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a speech in Brussels that mentioned the EU only once, even though he was speaking a block away from the European Parliament. Moreover, this mention was delivered in the form of a thinly veiled punch to the gut of his European audience: Pompeo asked whether the EU is placing the interests of its members and their citizens before those of Brussels-based bureaucrats.
Europeans are used to occasional transatlantic rifts and American straight talk. The two sides were bitterly divided over the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and many Europeans still have not fully forgiven former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for simplistically dividing the continent into ‘old Europe’ and ‘new Europe’. Yet, Europeans worry that the Trump administration represents something qualitatively different, implicitly if not explicitly hostile towards them, at least on certain issues.
Yet, Europe itself has also contributed to the weakening of the transatlantic bond. The US is right to criticize Europeans for failing to reach NATO’s 2% of GDP defence spending target, due to an entrenched culture of free riding. European societies have also grown psychologically somewhat apart from the US, which manifest itself in popular opposition to initiatives such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Although it was President Trump who halted TTIP negotiations in 2018, there was little chance that a final deal would have been ratified in all EU countries.
The US also has a point in arguing that Europe could do more to support American foreign policy goals, as Vice President Mike Pence suggested in his ill-received speech at the 2019 Munich Security Conference. On some issues such as the future of the so-called Iran Deal, the emergence of a common transatlantic position is unlikely, at least for now.
On others such as the political crisis in Venezuela, in which the geostrategic implications for Europe itself are limited at best, there should be a more concerted effort on the European side to support the American line as a goodwill demonstration and also to project transatlantic unity to the outside world.
Yet, even though Europeans can sometimes be frustrating allies, the US should not be sleepwalking away from the transatlantic relationship by siding with populists, treating the EU as a foe, and dismissing NATO. In a turbulent world where there are many threats to US national security, maintaining traditional alliances will help the current and future US administrations mitigate those threats.
The defining international security issue of the 21st century is likely to be the Sino-American rivalry. As China’s power increases, the need for Washington to balance Beijing to protect its interests in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond will grow correspondingly. However, China’s economic power is already greater than that of America’s great power rivals in the 20th century: the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Imperial Germany and Imperial Japan. This means that the US cannot afford to alienate its existing allies.
Collaborating with, at times, frustrating Europeans will therefore continue to be important for the US. America will need Europe to form an effective coalition to balance against the negative aspects of China’s growing influence around the world, including within Europe itself.
It will also need Europe to preserve and protect the fundamental elements of the existing liberal international order, which is under unprecedented pressure. As Sparta needed allies to stand against a rising Athens in the fifth century BC, so too will the US need its allies to stand against a rising China today.
In 1963, France and Germany signed the Elysée Treaty, which set the framework for their post-war relations and laid the foundations for further European integration. This January, France and Germany signed the Treaty of Aachen, to strengthen their bilateral ties and set future priorities.
To recalibrate the transatlantic relationship in the 21st century, the 70th anniversary of the Washington Treaty could be celebrated with a new treaty in which the US and Europe would recommit to tackling common challenges. To increase its appeal to the White House, it could even be called the Mar-a-Lago Treaty.Niklas Nováky Brexit Defence EU-US Security Transatlantic
America alienates Europe at its own peril
19 Feb 2019
The 14 April US-led missile strikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack were necessary to reestablish deterrence against any future use of such weapons in the country. Yet, the strikes were reactive rather than strategic in nature, and will not change the course of syria’s civil war. This would require the West to outline a clear vision for the country’s future, and a strategy to achieve it.Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Security
The US-led missile strikes in Syria
23 Apr 2018
This week Mark Zuckerberg appeared before Congress in Washington D.C. to testify over two consecutive days in relation to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The CEO of Facebook addressed a series of allegations, previously assumed but before now, never fully proven or confirmed at such high-level by a company representative. This personal blog briefly highlights the most important political takeaways which could have significant policy implications and are likely to remain matters for growing public concern within the EU.
Facebook is a monopoly. Facebook faces competition from other social media platforms or rival apps, but only in overlapping areas. The company does not have actual competition in today`s market and there is no single competing entity offering a similar bundle of services.
The company can`t cope. The narrative that a social network with so many users can self-regulate and monitor content independently and successfully remains untrue. The CEO of the company admitted that tracing hate speech and monitoring disturbing video content posted in an array of different languages, fast and effectively, is a persistent and insurmountable challenge. The copious number of languages and linguistic nuances employed and the millions of posts every day, means that there is no fully efficient ‘check’ against dangerous content or misleading/untrue facts which can distort markets and impact democracies.
Journalistic investigations have also questioned the actual amount of fake profiles engaged in fraudulent activities or phony accounts which are part of businesses seeking to sell online influence and artificial social engagement. Facebook has regularly pledged to address this issue, but the company has thus far refrained from admitting how much of its 2 billion user base has in fact been corrupted.
Facebook is at war with Russian operators. Mark Zuckerberg openly confirmed that the company has not fulfilled its responsibilities in terms of data privacy, fake news and foreign interference in elections. He further commented that his company is engaged in a persistent battle with Russian operators, attempting to exploit the social network.
In his words: ‘This is an arms race. They’re going to keep getting better’. This statement is nothing new but is a stark reminder that the upcoming 2019 European Parliament elections might be a target for the disinformation warfare lead by Moscow.
Personal data costs money. Prior to the recent scandal, the majority of Facebook users had little or no idea that their data was used for side purposes and also by third parties. Data costs money and Facebook provides a free service for the users by running ads. That is how Zuckerberg explained the business model of the social media in a nutshell.
However, this free service is supported by users ‘selling’ their own data at an unset price and by ‘signing’ a flawed contract with an abundance of fine print.
On Facebook ‘consent’ is an empty concept. Prior to 2015 Facebook`s Application Programme Interface (API) allowed third-party applications (after receiving user consent with a single click) to gather the data of the respective user, as well as the data of their Facebook connections. Granted, this was done after the original users had given their ‘consent’ to the third-party app but most users did not make an informed choice to share such a wealth of personal data and also expose their online friends.
Most importantly, users were not properly informed that in giving their consent with a click, they were delegating their personal information (and their friends’ data) to a third party, outside of Facebook`s platform and servers.
Facebook applies certain standards of accountability, respect of privacy and transparency when it comes to storing personal data within its servers. However, the company has been negligent in its handling of personal information and has de facto given it to third parties, without having created or implemented the necessary mechanisms for controlling these third parties.
Cambridge Analytica is a case in point. Even after the infamous company assured that it had deleted the personal data it had accumulated, Facebook had no instrument to verify this and only years later was it confirmed that Cambridge Analytica had lied. Again, it should be reiterated that most users have never given their full and informed consent and do not have comprehensive knowledge that third parties have been using, storing, studying and even archiving their personal data, away from the Facebook servers completely unchecked by private or public scrutiny.
The European Union should set the global standard on data protection. The CEO of Facebook recently hinted that parts of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into force in late May 2018, could be applied by the company not only in Europe but on a global scale. During the recent public testimony, he stated that the company may implement a different set of parameters given the `different sensibilities in the U.S.` but Facebook remains committed to installing necessary controls and tools for affirmative consent.
This remains only a promise. The current gaping legislative hole in the U.S. is likely to be addressed soon and it is probable that GDPR will serve as a template. The EU should acknowledge this and further increase its effort to set a global standard for data protection and privacy in terms of trade and the conducting of business with third countries.
Tread lightly but regulate. The question of regulating social media companies is becoming ever more pertinent. This is a considerable challenge given the growing ecosystem of start-ups and innovative companies which should not be stifled by cumbersome legislation. Zuckerberg himself confirmed during the hearing that regulating social media companies is inevitable and he is open to providing support for such an idea. The U.S. and EU legislators will have to make decisions fast and walk into the unknown land of tougher social media regulatory oversight.
Facebook is currently acting as an intermediary in news spreading, financial transactions and broadcasting live content, but it is far from being classified as a media, financial service or broadcasting company in the strict legal sense. Facebook is one of the global brands which are redefining classical concepts of competition and have used this opportunity to grow their business on a massive scale.
Such innovative companies are welcome as they provide new services, improve lives and create employment opportunities. However, they remain mostly unchecked and recent developments have proven that users are in a vulnerable position, particularly exposed to data breaches, and in some instances, platforms can be used for nefarious purposes with detrimental global impact. Legislation 2.0 is urgently neededDimitar Lilkov EU-US Innovation Technology
The Zuckerberg takeaways and what they mean for the EU
12 Apr 2018
American officials have raised concerns about Permanent Structured Cooperation, the EU’s new defence pact. If these concerns signal a broader shift in US policy towards EU defence cooperation, they will undermine US efforts to improve transatlantic burden sharing.Defence EU-US Security Transatlantic
New American scepticism on EU defence cooperation
15 Mar 2018
If Europe’s punditry is to be believed, we’re in the middle of a trade war and the EU is under attack from Donald Trump who hates us for our trade surplus, our great automobiles and the European Social Model.
And indeed, a US President who defines trade in zero sum terms, where one side’s gain is the other side’s loss, is a problem. But before we go further in belligerent rhetoric and hit back hard with retaliatory measures, let’s stop and keep things in perspective.
First of all, Donald Trump is not the first American president to introduce trade tariffs. A recent example of a former US president attempting the same still resonates in everyone’s minds: Bush in 2002. At the time, the World Trade Organisation had deemed the new US tariffs on steel illegal, after complaints brought by the EU in March 2003.
Though we all hope that it will not come to that, the EU through Commissioner Malmström has already stated that it will not hesitate in once more engaging with the WTO to get the United States to back down on the tariffs.
Secondly, it’s worth reminding ourselves that steel and aluminium make up only 2 % of EU exports to the US, and that it’s a bit premature to speak of a trade war. This is even if, on 23 March, Trump’s punitive tariffs come into effect. The first consequence will be the even more acutely felt Chinese surplus on European markets.
This brings us to our third point: China. As China’s factories are usually state-owned and heavily subsidised, the country has been capable of keeping them open despite there being no global appetite for steel and aluminium. This has resulted in an excess capacity and, subsequently, the laying off of steel workers around the world, incapable of keeping up with the decrease in prices imposed by the Chinese factories.
It is Trump’s binary vision of international trade which has made him overlook how the trade tariffs, by not excluding the EU, will further affect the European continent as its markets will be flooded with Chinese metals. The latest developments on the part of the Trump administration demonstrate a positive twist: from further conversations on March 12, it appears the EU will be exempted from the tariffs on the condition that the EU is a reliable partner in fighting over-capacities.
That proves what has been clear all along: US and EU cooperating to fight China’s questionable trade practices has become an avenue out of the transatlantic trade crisis.
Fourthly, it is important to understand the very specific domestic circumstances in which Trump is beginning to apply ‘America First!’ to trade (which, next to migration and foreign entanglements, had been one of his three core campaign promises all along). The White House is in chaos and this week he hopes for a Republican victory in a by-election in Pennsylvania – in the heart of the Rust Belt in which steel production still plays a vital role.
US and EU cooperating to fight China’s questionable trade practices has become an avenue out of the transatlantic trade crisis.
Moreover, we should note how unpopular Trump’s trade rhetoric, and the announcements of new tariffs, are among Republicans (whereas they seem to go down well with the unions). While this doesn’t excuse what the President is doing, all of this is a strong indication that neither he nor the Republicans are ‘attacking the EU’ or the European Social Model.
Five, we might also be surprised at who, among Socialists and Greens, have recently become vocal advocates of global trade. At the peak of the anti-TTIP and anti-CETA campaigns, trade had become something of a taboo among these segments of the political sphere. It is refreshing to see them now condemning protectionism in such clear terms.
Ultimately, here is what Europeans should do: calmly engage with our American partners and have a frank discussion on bilateral as well as global trade; discuss how we can pressure China into being a fairer player on world markets, and resolve our bilateral problems on the way. If the US President is unhappy about the trade tariffs that the US and EU negotiated decades ago, let’s negotiate new ones.
This would, incidentally, bring us back to a transatlantic trade deal which would work even better if it included some regulatory convergence. Of course, we couldn’t call it TTIP. But we should use the momentum to take all those newfound friends of Transatlantic trade by their word, and strengthen the argument that if people sell and buy goods and services, we may discuss the parameters, but it’s first of all a good thing and a pillar of our civilisation.Roland Freudenstein Anna van Oeveren EU-US Globalisation Trade Transatlantic
Anna van Oeveren
Keep calm, trade fairly and tackle China
13 Mar 2018
First seen as a walk through, then seen as complicated and difficult, and finally viewed as a disaster, the trauma of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations still influence the dynamics of EU-US trade relations, or rather their future.
A less than perfect management of the post-2016 European public debate on TTIP, coupled with vocal anti-TTIP voices and the rhetoric of United States President Trump have all created a situation where very few people are considering the possibility of a Free trade Area between the two transatlantic partners.
There is concern that the disruption of EU-US dialogue is creating a backlog of commerce and trade related issues and that there is a negative spill over from politics to commerce.
Apart of the bilateral trade dialogue, the EU and US administration view the future of the World trade organisation (WTO) and global trade framework differently. However, though a comprehensive EU-US Trade Agreement is not realistic at present, the EU and US must develop their trade relations in any way they can.
There is concern that the disruption of EU-US dialogue is creating a backlog of commerce and trade related issues and that there is a negative spill over from politics to commerce, which could ultimately adversely affect EU-US trade relations.
Meanwhile, President Juncker and his Commission are unwavering in their support of free trade and the EU is now negotiating new trade deals with other parts of the world: the Commission is submitting the Japan trade agreement for the approval of the European Parliament and EU Member States, aiming for it to be introduced before the end of its current mandate in 2019. The EU is also negotiating a trade deal with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, as part of a broader Association Agreement between the two regions.
Nonetheless, EU-US trade relations should not be forgotten. Together, the EU and US are still the largest economic entity on the planet and cross-continental investments are increasing. Even seemingly small improvements in that flow will create added economic value, and as pointed out several times by Commission Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, it is not normal that we negotiate with the whole world on promoting trade whilst not seeking to improve on the current trade relationship with the US.
In addition, on both sides there are strong pro-trade actors. The majority of the European population remains positive about trade and in the US Congress there are strong forces that wish to relaunch the free trade agenda whenever the opportunity arises.
Luckily, the EU and US are still negotiating on sectoral obstacles of trade. The Commission DGs for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Health and Food Safety and Agriculture and Rural Development are currently in talks with their US counterparts with the view to future cooperation on cars, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and tests amongst others. The legal framework for EU and US sectoral cooperation could focus on mutual recognition agreements: focusing on active and regular dialogue in order to adopt common standards.
The majority of the European population remains positive about trade and in the US Congress there are strong forces that wish to relaunch the free trade agenda whenever the opportunity arises.
This has already yielded some positive results. For example, the EU and US have achieved a mutual recognition of test results for pharmaceuticals, which can increase efficiency by reducing paperwork and the duplication of tests. Furthermore, EU and US dialogue being conducted on space-related issues is also showing early signs of success.
Sectoral cooperation is an EU proposal to which the US has previously agreed. Unfortunately, there has been very limited follow-up. The two sides have yet to accumulate enough political capital to advance sectoral cooperation further.
Sectoral cooperation is less controversial than a comprehensive trade agreement and there is the possibility to extend it so long as there is common interest. Even though sectoral cooperation does not sound very ambitious, it gives real economic benefits and keeps the channels of communication open on issues of trade.
However, sectoral cooperation still requires political support and industry pressure. And, of course, commitment from the European political leadership. The steps towards sectoral cooperation may seem small, but they will maintain the badly needed positive momentum and pave the way towards more comprehensive future trade negotiations between the EU and the US.Tomi Huhtanen EU-US Trade Transatlantic
Sectoral cooperation or how to get back on track after TTIP
21 Feb 2018
Today being pro-trade and defending globalisation seem to be out of fashion. After Trump crushed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP), and put the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under his hammer, it does seem that the tide has turned against global trade and globalisation.
In Europe this is seen through the fall of the TTIP agreement, which in fact was already in trouble before the election of President Trump. Anti-trade sentiments are labelled as partly responsible for the rise of populism in Europe, and nationalist parties have adopted a soft-anti trade stand.
Setting the numbers straight
But the fact is that the mainstream held assumption that there is strong anti-trade sentiment in Europe is a fallacy. The majority of Europeans support free trade and want more of it, as the Eurobarometer study shows. 73% of EU citizens view free trade as positive. There is national differences of course, with 85% of Danish citizens seeing it as positive at the higher end of the spectrum and 58% of Greeks seeing it positively.
Furthermore, according to the Eurobarometer, respondents increasingly see globalisation as positive and important for economic growth. More than half of all respondents consider globalisation to be positive (54%), an increase of six percentage points since autumn 2016 and a 17-point increase since spring 2005. More than six in ten (62%) agree that globalisation is an opportunity for economic growth, and more than half (51%) agree that globalisation represents a good opportunity for companies in their country by opening-up new markets.
How do you explain these results, despite all of the negative spin in the media? The fact is that Europe and the EU are made up of mainly small and medium sized countries, which understand that political and economic isolation will not bring them strength and prosperity. Many of the countries have well known success stories of citizens’ companies being successful in global markets. Those companies could not have made it if they only had access to the market of their home country.
When the minority is loud and the majority remains silent
If trade is such a popular topic, what then explains the unpopularity of TTIP in Europe? Firstly, a loud minority together with anti-globalist networks, who managed to dominate the debate. Secondly, for the large majority of the political actors in EU capitals and Brussels, TTIP was important, but not important enough to fight and go public in defending. And thirdly, as Matthias Bauer of ECIPE points out, the anti-TTIP movement was not a bottom-up movement but clearly a top-down one:
“The widespread aversion to TTIP in Germany is the result of an orchestrated, top-down campaign initiative launched by a small number of long-established, well-connected and, thus, highly influential politicians of Germany’s Green and left-wing political parties and associated NGO campaign managers masquerading and operating under the guise of pro-democracy, pro-environment and pro-Christian civil society.”
In addition, we are only beginning to understand how Russian-related media played strongly against TTIP.
What should pro-trade forces do?
A major difficulty with debating trade agreements is that when anti-trade actors criticise trade agreements, they usually speak hypothetically about what the trade agreement could contain. The problem, for example, with TTIP was that there was no official text since the negotiations were still ongoing. It is difficult to refute obnoxious claims on the details of the agreements on a fact-basis, when the official agreement paper has not yet been drafted.
In this case, what should pro-trade forces do? Firstly, as the European Commission has already emphasised, as part of underlining the economic benefits and positive impact on growth, we need also need to make it clear that rule-based trade agreements can play a strong role in developing a rule-based framework for the global economy. Trade agreements aim to eliminate distortions and unfair practices on a global scale. They are a tool for promoting European values.
Secondly, we need to continue to find new partners for trade and work on respective trade agreements. The Commission’s intention to examine the possibilities with Mercosur is a good example of the direction we should be going in. Also, we should build on where we left off with TTIP, especially in our trade relationship with the United States.
Despite the political situation in the US, we must work on sectoral cooperation, as Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen mentioned during a recent keynote. If an overall agreement with the United States is not possible, we should work on sectoral agreements. Despite the White House statements, there are still very important Republican and Democrat Congress members who are very much in favour of re-launching the trade agenda.
Lastly and perhaps most importantly: we must change our mindset and understand that trade is not an underdog topic, but it is a topic which the majority of voters (at least centre and centre-right ones) feel positive about. If trade is supported by more than 50% of European citizens, it must not become a “no-go area” for centre and centre-right politicians.
In conclusion, if the majority of European voters are in favour of both trade and globalisation, thus showing that the commonly held assumption about anti-trade sentiment in Europe is a fallacy, centre and centre-right politicians have an important mission to keep defending, pursuing and explaining the benefits that trade brings.Tomi Huhtanen Economy EU Member States EU-US Globalisation Trade
The European anti-trade sentiment: a fallacy, not a fact
15 Nov 2017
President Trump’s foreign policy remains paradoxical and as yet highly uncertain. European leaders face the challenge of communicating both their interests and values in ways that the new president will welcome. Thus far, practical discussion combined with a personal connection seems the likeliest path to success. Ultimately, the EU has the opportunity not only to partner with the US but to lead the way forward based on the EU’s own fundamental commitments and values. Three important areas this could affect are security and defence, climate change policy and global trade.
Read the full article in the June 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Nathan Shepura Environment EU-US Foreign Policy Leadership Transatlantic
Ledgers, anecdotes and leadership: guidelines for partnering with the new US president
22 Jun 2017
On 25 May, President Trump will come to Brussels, on the last leg of his first trip abroad.
If anyone takes offense at Europe coming in line after Saudi Arabia and Israel on this trip, then talking to Trump might be a waste of time. You will be better off among the demonstrators with their whistles, #resist hashtags and “Impeachment!” placards. But if the heads of government of EU and European NATO members want to get anything positive out of the meeting this week, they might want to keep in mind a few do’s and don’ts:
- Trump is here to stay. Don’t get sidetracked by the Washington sitcom around the Kremlin connection and its diverse spinoffs. First of all, impeachment is not around the corner. And second, even if it were, this administration will remain with us for a whole four years: snap elections are not part of America’s political system.
- Focus on the concrete. Don’t lecture the President on the history, principles or values of European integration. That doesn’t mean Europe’s leaders should forget about their identity or hide what they stand for. But that they should count on a President and administration interested in pragmatic progress and with little interest in theory.
- Europhobia is an exception. Don’t take some US conservatives’ criticism of European integration as the new normal. Frustration over a perceived lack of European burden sharing on defence and security is as old as the alliance. Similarly, the exasperation over the ping pong game between Brussels and the national capitals – as encapsulated in Kissinger’s question about which phone number to call for Europe’s position. Keep in mind that while Trump has some advisors openly opposed to the EU, the vast majority of his key people in the White House and elsewhere recognise the value of the EU even if they find dealing with it to be overly complicated and annoying.
- Work on united EU positions. But keep in mind that Americans note how European leaders don’t always convey a common message when they communicate through their Embassies in Washington. When Trump or his advisors try to discuss EU policies with individual European counterparts, they aren’t necessarily trying to weaken the EU; they want to achieve fast results by working with the countries they deem more influential than others in Europe. Hence, as long as EU member states don’t devolve all their powers to Brussels, some of them will have to speak for the whole Union sometimes. Such is life.
- Find the common interests. The last, but most important point: do make constructive proposals that are in the interest of both Europe and the US. Besides serious commitments to improved defence efforts which have already been widely discussed, here are a few ideas:
- NATO: Visibly increase military spending, but even more importantly, improve pooling and sharing among European forces within NATO. Accelerate NATO reform, with more concrete commitments to the South. However, one should keep in mind Turkey’s nuisance value in blocking NATO projects in the Middle East.
- Russia: Europeans and Americans need to stay close on managing sanctions and other matters related to Russia. Trump is no longer enthralled with Putin; hence, European leaders need to exploit the rapid end of this Administration’s originally planned “reset”. But, that also means that Europe has to have a united position towards Russia.
- Syria: Trump was sincerely shocked by Assad’s gas attack, and he launched the counter-strike despite opposition from the ‘America First’ crowd in his Administration. He will certainly be open to concrete ideas that address the humanitarian issues in the civil war. Joint military and civilian operations to establish safe zones for refugees from the killing fields in Syria, (also Yemen and Libya), difficult as they may be, will be a good start. Joint initiatives to save Christians and other religious minorities also come to mind.
- Turkey: How can the US and Europe work together with a NATO ally that is increasingly moving away from the West? Trump will be open to a common transatlantic attempt to define red lines, but also incentives, vis-à-vis Turkey.
- China: Managing an aggressive China that is also a major economic partner of both the US and EU is a major challenge. Trump is focused on North Korea and trade imbalances. European ideas on multilateral pressure on Chinese advances in the South China Sea will be welcome.
- Brexit: Trump has a known bias in favor of the UK in the Brexit process. But many corporate leaders keep repeating that a smooth and constructive Brexit would be good for American interests. Trump may like the idea of Brexit but he doesn’t want American companies and investors to be hurt. Europeans would diffuse a lot of US concerns if they agreed to consult on those issues involved in Brexit that have direct implications for the US.
- Trade: While some of Trump’s advisors may hold very simplistic views on the transatlantic trade balance, others believe that a trade war should definitely be avoided. This view is shared by the business community. Hence, in the footsteps of the moribund TTIP, and building on positions already agreed in that process, European leaders should propose a Transatlantic New Deal that takes into account people’s fears about losing out to globalisation, and that more visibly strengthens the position of small and medium enterprises.
- Intelligence: First, in general, Europeans have to become more pragmatic on intelligence sharing and (especially in Germany’s case) show more appreciation. Secondly, and more specifically: One of the things that could be damaged by Brexit is transatlantic intelligence cooperation. Europeans should have ideas in mind of what they want and what they will give in return.
- European Defence Cooperation: EU leaders should expect the President to applaud European efforts. But they ought to be careful not to promise what they can’t deliver in the short run. Trump may still be looking for reasons to shift American power to Asia. Above all: the EU should work on its intervention capacity while military defence against conventional attack should remain a NATO matter. Of course, strengthening the European pillar within NATO will be welcome in Washington.
Trump visit: 5 things Europe’s leaders should do – and not do – this week
22 May 2017
Angela Merkel put the fear of God in many Atlanticists when she remarked in Bavaria “the era when we could fully rely on others is partially over”. This is classical Merkel speak and it means: “I’m seriously worried and I believe it’s a good idea to say so publicly while avoiding a too blunt statement “.
For a campaign crowd fully aware of her strange and strained interactions with Donald Trump in Washington, Brussels and Sicily, the meaning was clear: we aren’t going to put up with American boorishness on defense spending or foot dragging on climate change, refugees and other matters. To cap it off, the German leader announced that Europeans “…need to take our fate into our own hands”.
The most important aspect of this statement is that after Brussels, but especially after the G-7 summit in Sicily, she has to avoid looking like Trump’s poodle if she wants to be re-elected in September. Although opinion polls are looking better for her than in February, the three left-of-center parties could still topple her if they manage to convince enough voters that only they can confront Donald Trump, and credibly stand for a more independent Europe.
After Brussels, but especially after the G-7 summit in Sicily, Merkel has to avoid looking like Trump’s poodle if she wants to be re-elected in September.
While German politicians are quick to denounce populism, there is a long tradition of using populist rhetoric in the context of hotly contested campaigns going back to Willy Brandt. Certainly, Merkel’s predecessor Gerhard Schröder won an election on an anti-Bush and to a degree anti-American ticket in 2002. Should we just interpret Merkel’s remarks as nothing more than a candidate feeding red meat to her base?
The answer is yes and no. Donald Trump declared NATO as obsolete and criticized Europeans for not spending enough on their own defense because it sparked an enthusiastic reaction among his core followers who are tired of America’s military commitments in far flung places. As European have discovered, he meant what he said about defense spending even if he has moderated his views on the Alliance.
Merkel was playing to the crowd and, once the campaign is over, we should expect a more open and conciliatory tone towards the United States if not towards President Trump – provided the current escalation can be kept in check. But she is also serious about creating a Europe that is less dependent on the US and the UK in terms of the projection of military power, intelligence gathering and global diplomacy.
With the election of Emmanuel Macron in France, European ambitions have been rekindled. Spring is in the air in Paris, Brussels and Berlin, after a period of gloom caused by Trump’s election victory and the Brexit referendum. Rather than worry about Russian threats or new waves of refugees, Europe’s great and good are now ready to talk about deeper integration, including deeper cooperation in defense and other spheres.
But, honestly: Europeans have little choice over whom to depend on when it comes to the full scale of military threats from Russia. From hybrid to conventional to nuclear, Europe cannot defend itself, even 20 years from now, and will have to rely on the US. What Europe can and should do is improve its capacity to intervene in the Southern neighborhood. But even for that, good relations with the US and the UK would come in handy.
The German Chancellor is also serious about creating a Europe that is less dependent on the US and the UK in terms of the projection of military power, intelligence gathering and global diplomacy.
Americans should take this ambition seriously for three reasons. First, they need to understand the danger for the German Chancellor in being seen to kowtow to American hectoring. Second, they need to remind Europeans that this ambition does not have to be contrary to US interests but rather supports the American desire for more burden sharing.
And, finally, they need to be clear that the ultimate US security guarantee is NATO and Article V. It is time for President Trump to rethink his rhetoric and actions and to focus on revitalizing the Atlantic partnership through a clear commitment to European defense.
Chancellor Merkel may not have been signaling a pivot away from the United States, but her declaration should spark a serious debate in Europe and North America about how to remake the transatlantic alliance at a time when the problems and threats are quite different from the period following WWII.
Both Merkel and Trump (and Obama before him) have sent out clear signals that the old Atlantic partnership is not working. Now, we need to decide whether we will just let this once powerful community slide into disrepair and disarray or we will recognize its inherent potential and power for good and take the necessary steps to repair this struggling partnership.Roland Freudenstein Craig Kennedy Brexit EU-US Transatlantic Values
End of the West or just politics as usual?
01 May 2017
From Immanuel Kant and William Penn to Aristide Briand, the idea of European Unity represents something of an age-old dream in Europe.
The early post WWII attempts at European unity, however, were the result of the destructive excesses of nationalism, and war. The motivation was to transcend the tradition of national antagonism, and create a network of economic interdependence that would virtually eliminate the possibility of renewed conflict among European states. So that Europe would not regress to a “dark continent” ever again.
Building a new economic and political structure in Europe, would subordinate national sovereignty to a wider European loyalty and decision-making process. The prospect of European unity also meant enhanced, and quicker economic recovery and eventual prosperity.
There was also the realization on the part of Western European powers that the scale of world politics had radically changed as a result of WWII. None of the great European powers alone would be able to reinstate their global position in the post war era. Only united they stood a chance of reestablishing their influence in world affairs.
European unity also became a major US foreign policy objective after the war. For one reason or another, the US found itself deeply involved in two European wars inside a generation. It became an accepted proposition that the US had a right and an interest to become involved in Europe’s postwar reconstruction. Support in Europe and the US for European unity rose dramatically with the beginning of the cold war.
The Berlin blockade and the communist takeover in Prague, with the backing of the Soviet Union, were a stark evidence of the Soviet threat to European security. In the emerging bipolar structure of the cold war, the strengthening of Western Europe became a vital interest of both western Europeans and Americans.
A further American motivation for unity was the German problem. European unity was seen as a way of addressing the German problem by anchoring Germany in the West. Germany’s economic potential could also be vital for west European recovery. It is no secret that this was a major American motive in proposing the Marshall plan in 1947 and associating W. Germany with it in 1948.
For skeptical members of Congress, European unity was seen as a major means of avoiding a situation of permanent European economic dependence upon the US.
For that reason the Marshall plan intended to rebuild European production capabilities to enable the Europeans to export sufficiently to support their import needs through their export earnings. The US position was that any new dollar aid would have to carry reliable guarantees of getting the Europeans off the US dole within a period of four years. For that reason the Marshall plan was based on a concerted regional basis unlike the earlier UNRRA bilateral aid approaches.
The US made it clear that continuation of Marshall aid funds would depend upon European cooperation and institutional creativity. In that sense the US encouraged the creation of OEEC as an organization, which would encourage West European unity. OEEC would get the questions of who gets what, settled by the Europeans themselves. Then the Europeans would present their agreed upon proposals to Washington for consideration.
OEEC was an intergovernmental organization without any pretension of supranationality or federalizing tendencies. It was an institution for the coordination of nationally determined economic recovery projects. It could not compel states to do anything.
OEEC did, however, contribute greatly to west European economic recovery, which was a precondition for European integration later represented by the ECSC and the EEC. Furthermore, OEEC through the European Payments Union (EPU) stimulated major European trade increases leading to the growth of European assets in the 50s, which was a precondition to allow European currencies to become convertible.
This, in turn, was a precondition for the integration that started with the treaty of Rome. OEEC was also successful in the import quota abolition. It also made an important contribution to the restructuring of the locus of European decision-making in the economic realm. It developed and consolidated a process of consultations among European governments with respect to economic plans and policies, which smoothed the way to the next level of economic cooperation in the context of the EEC.
The conditions of the post war era and the realities of the emerging cold war motivated and rallied a number of European statesmen around the dream of European unity. Exceptional figures such as Schuman, Adenauer, Spaak, Monet, Spinelli, and de Gasperi, seized the moment to promote the vision of a united Europe. They, rightly, came to be called the founding fathers of European unity.
To a large extent, however, the early impulses for European unity in the immediate post war era came from the so called “external federators”. The positive and decisive role of the United States, on the one hand, and the emerging challenges and threats posed by the Soviet Union and the cold war, on the other.
Europe at sixty is facing a similar set of challenges, and the reasons for the continuity of the European project remain as strong as ever. Europe can only united face the challenges of globalization, and cope effectively with its current polycrisis. Its unity remains vital for the West and US interests, even under the Trump administration. While, on the other hand, Putin’s assertive Russia makes unity imperative for its survival.Constantine Arvanitopoulos EU-US European Union Euroscepticism Leadership
Early attempts at European unity: the “External Federators”
19 Apr 2017
In these heady days of the early Trump era, one may be forgiven for thinking that for Europe, none of the old certainties hold true anymore. Consequently, to many European pundits, it is obvious that whether we want it or not, we are forced to rethink our strategic posture from scratch. Some advise that we now have to become self-sufficient in security – because the new US President has, at least in interviews and tweets, sown doubt about the 70 year old US security commitment to Europe.
Some have argued that we should kiss and make up with Russia because under Trump, the US risk to overtake us in the race of who’ll be Putin’s darling – at least until recently. And some claim that the best thing we can do now is to replace the US by China as a strategic partner, because they seem to have so much to offer economically and, let’s be honest, also just to spite the new occupant of the White House.
President Xi’s chiseled words don’t match the bleak reality of what China is doing.
Quite frankly, this type of knee-jerk ‘Europe First’ strategy can only backfire because it is built on false premises. It is true that, while Donald Trump’s tweets continued to haunt us, President Xi Jin Ping held a remarkable speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In it, he sang the praise of socially conscious globalisation, open borders and global governance – just as the new US President was shouting ‘America First!’ from our TV screens.
Rhetorically, China has also been an advocate of a strong EU for some time. And last but not least, the grandious project of a ‘New Silk Road’ linking Asia to Europe might come to symbolise not only stronger economic but also strategic links. But one thorough look at China and the world today is enough to see that President Xi’s chiseled words don’t match the bleak reality of what China is doing as we speak.
The Chinese Communist Party has never stopped considering ‘Western’ ideas about human rights a threat.
First, in the South China Sea, the Beijing government is continuing its expansion against all global rules, to the great worries of its neighbours in the region, and rejecting the consultation and arbitration mechanisms foreseen in the UN system and the International Court of Justice. This is all the more dangerous because Russia has, in recent years, begun doing exactly the same in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine: undermining the global liberal order, not only with words, but also deeds.
Second, China does not really seem to favour a strong European Union. Its ’16 + 1’ initiative, comprising 16 cash-strapped countries inside and outside the EU, is clearly designed to create a generic grouping of countries that share a communist past as well as financial dependency on China turning into some degree of political subservience.
Hungary is a case in point – its breaking ranks with the rest of the EU on condemning Chinese expansionism in Asia is exemplary of Beijing’s divide et impera strategy. Chinese support for sub-EU regional groupings now also seems to extend to the Mediterranean members and even to the Nordics.
Third, President Xi’s lofty appeals to global governance eclipse China’s peculiar ideas about national governance, as they come out in its unconditional support for corrupt, dictatorial regimes in Africa, and even more in its crackdown on freedom of expression and the first buds of civil society in China itself. The increasing suppression of previously assured civic rights in Hong Kong, and especially the kidnapping of EU citizens (Chinese with double nationalities) from South East Asia, are examples of what is really going on.
The Chinese Communist Party has never stopped considering ‘Western’ ideas about human rights a threat. All this is not to mention the regular military threats against democratic Taiwan. Finally, one has to mention Chinese state-sponsored criminal activity, as in the systematic violation of copyright law and the organised hacking of American and European technology firms.
All this does not mean that Europe should not seek cooperation with China on issues of global importance, such as trade and climate change. But let’s remain realistic as to the prospects of a strategic partnership with a country whose governing elite and many of its citizens have such a different outlook on our world.
Making America great again is not possible without friends and allies.
Instead of flirting with China, we’d better try to convince the US administration that making America great again is not possible without friends and allies, and that the most natural members of that group will always be found in Europe. The President’s State of the Union speech on 28 February, though mainly focused on domestic affairs, should be read as a sign that the administration is thinking along those lines now.
Given America’s old and strong democracy, Trump, even if he tried, would have a hard time overturning the global liberal order against America’s own creation – a system of value-based alliances that has been developed for over a century. For Europe, it’s time to get real and start working with what we still have, instead of relying on what we’re supposed to hear in Davos and other places.Roland Freudenstein Democracy EU-US Foreign Policy Trade
Why China is still a threat and America still our ally
03 Mar 2017
Hollywood lost on November 8th. Some directors and actors threatened to leave the country if Mr Trump was elected. The paradox here is that the tone of many filmmakers grew darker over the past two decades, as if they were whispering: “progressive policies do not work…we have no alternative but vote for them anyway!”. Donald Trump listened to that murmur carefully.
It all started with the Sopranos (1999-2007), as most things in our century. Amongst gender gap outcries of various sorts, the Sopranos brought back the notion of male patriarchy, the nostalgia for a time when men were confident and financially indispensable.
The wife of Tony Soprano, Carmela, would not have existed, and been so popular amongst men and women, without today’s repressed female crisis: “having it all” and sleeping five hours per day. Mad Men (2007-2015) fed on the same melancholy, shared by both sexes.
Then came another confession in the form of lost illusions over capitalism. The complexity of the 2008 financial collapse, and the meagre response of the Obama Administration with the Dodd Frank Act passed in 2010, were dissected for the public in numerous movies: Margin Call (2011), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), The Big Short (2015).
The audience was both entertained and informed by mega stars who took time, as well as a decent amount of well-intentioned energy, to describe how finance truly works nowadays and why, eventually, inequalities are growing as a result of a disconnection from the values of merit and labour.
Politics was quick to follow. Gone are the days of joyful, optimistic, West Wing (1999-2006) episodes, which provided President Obama with a wonderful cultural cushion for the election that brought him to power. Their wish was indeed fulfilled in 2008: millions were already dreaming of the learned and daring President Bartlet.
Breaking away from that “let’s reach for the stars” ideal, House of Cards (2013- ) is now displaying the unsavoury corruption of Washington lobbying and the political swamp of extra-marital affairs. It’s the new bottom up cocktail: Sex, Drugs & the Taxpayer.
An even more fascinating topic is war. Hollywood is having a hard time transforming the US-led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into gripping philosophical tales. Where are today’s Apocalypse Now (1979), The Deer Hunter (1978) or Platoon (1986)? The United States was defeated in Vietnam, much as it was in its post 9/11 battles.
But something changed at the core: there was more to tell in the 1960s and 1970s because the risks accepted by soldiers and their families were higher. Interestingly, the best American account of the current rise of violence focused not on the Middle East, but on the US/Mexican border.
Director Denis Villeneuve, in Sicario (2015), pressed his finger on the limitations of Western rule of law to combat Mexico’s drug cartels. A revenge-hungry Benicio del Toro summed it up chillingly to dismayed Emily Blunt: “you will not survive here. You’re not a wolf and this is a land of wolves now”.
One final point over world governance. While 195 countries were painfully negotiating the Paris Agreement in December 2015 over climate change, Hollywood spent all its resources explaining that innovation would save mankind, not public bureaucracies. I Am Legend (2007), Sunshine (2007) or Interstellar (2014) made the point that men are indeed over-reaching but that only the brains of a few can help us all, not the efforts of many.
World War Z (2013) is a case in point: Brad Pitt plays a United Nations worker whose role is to actually find a vaccine he understands very little about. Let us hope that we have a more straight forward plan if zombies ever do occur.
Donald Trump surfed on those Hollywood waves, drawing much different conclusions than most of his Californian inspirers. When he kept repeating: “we have to get smart about Mexico”, he was referring to the same evidences most Americans saw in theatres or in front of their TV screens.
When he blurted out that “prisoners are not war heroes”, he sent a powerful message to all those who feel the Western anguish of not being able to cope with violence anymore.
When he repeatedly degraded women, he appealed to the sense of numerous couples for which feminist-minded parity led to deception for some and demographic bitterness for all. When he blamed political and business elites, he knew he had the same Hollywood cushion that Barack Obama had when he won in 2008.
For those who still believe in liberal democracy – the author being in that group – one certainty prevails: the longer we wait to find practical policy answers to the issues above, the more compromises will have to be made.
Limiting contemporary tensions to “the fringes of the nation”, as the New Yorker once put it, would be a major mistake. Trump caught the Hollywood truth ball. We should too.
 Anthony Lane, “Dark Places: Sicario”, New Yorker, September 21, 2015.Michael Benhamou EU-US Transatlantic Values
Hollywood, Trump and the Fringes of America
13 Jan 2017
Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election to President of the United States are events of historical proportion. In important ways, they challenge assumptions long taken for granted by both sides of the political spectrum. We publish below various contributions on the lessons the European People’s Party should draw from these political developments.
Contributors are broadly connected to the European centre-right and offer a wide range of opinions on the topic under discussion. Some believe that an identitarian agitation is sweeping across the West, and that the centre-right should reclaim identity politics from anti-establishment movements and reconcile it with European integration, after having neglected it for too long. Others reject this analysis, downplay identitarian factors or see the return of identity politics as a purely populist phenomenon that should be opposed by all means.
A Europe of values and results
Director, CEDER Study Centre
The recent developments in the UK and the US are reflections of discontent of large parts of the population with what is going on in their daily lives and their feelings about the future, which led to mistrust in traditional politics and in current leaders. The Brexit referendum is for many people the proof of a failing European Union, while the US presidential elections give rise to fears about the traditional multilateral approach and the strength of our transatlantic relations.
We believe that the EPP must emphasise the importance of delivering tangible results on all levels of government; results that improve the lives of citizens and which take into account the concerns of all EU citizens. For the EPP this will require strong leadership, vision and more unified action and opinions. Deepening and strengthening the European Union is also necessary, on the basis of our common values, such as democracy, human rights, the rule of law, solidarity and tolerance.
The confidence and involvement of citizens will be of utmost importance to restore the ‘European Dream’. The dialogue between citizens and the European institutions therefore needs to be strengthened. That is why we believe the work of Luc Van den Brande as Special Adviser to EC Commission President Juncker to further strengthen the dialogue with the EU citizens is so important.
Stay firm and united
Member of the European Parliament
Now it is serious. These are the times that the European Union once was founded to meet. To secure freedom, democracy and peace in Europe. To provide stability in a fragile world. To develop a dynamic economy for prosperity and social cohesion. This is not anymore about ideological speeches but brutal reality.
It is a new world. More risky. More instable. It is the free world that is under threat and it is the world order from the years after the Second World War that is being challenged. The crises of today are not the crisis of the European Union, but it is these kinds of crises the EU was created to deal with. To give stability to Europe and give stability to the free world.
This challenge might be the most difficult we have ever faced. It is more challenging than reforming agricultural policy, establishing the internal market or launching the service directive. It is even more challenging than fighting bureaucracy.
The solution is simple but difficult. We must stand together, side by side. Reform our markets and deepen the internal market. Achieve an Energy union and a Capital Markets Union. Take the lead in the digitalisation of global economies. Stay firm to Russia and clarify that all parts of the Union are the European Union, be it Narva in Estonia or all the ancient capitals of Europe once behind the Iron Curtain.
Control our borders in order to ensure that the processing of asylum procedures is worthy of civilised societies. We must strengthen our military defence capabilities in order to be able to make use of our soft powers and proceed with the enlargement when countries are prepared. Reform Europe rather than create new divisions in the EU by ever new ideas of institutional changes.
Wanted: personalities with attitude and image
Deputy Director for Political Consulting, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Nobody had seen it coming. But within hours of the US presidential elections, many people apparently understood perfectly what had happened. Donald Trump’s election was heralding the start of a ‘global era of populism’, newspapers said.
Taking a more analytical view, it is clear that there are significant differences between the US and Europe. Electoral and party systems, the media and election campaigning, personalities and the topics dominating the debate in the US do not allow any clear conclusions to be drawn for future developments in Europe. And populist parties, which have been gaining ground in Europe for some time, also differ considerably from each other.
However, there appear to be similarities in some of the underlying conditions that have facilitated the strengthening of populist mobilisation. The anxiety of the middle classes about losing status in the course of the processes of social change has increased noticeably in affluent Western societies. Differentiation in lifestyles and individualisation combined with high levels of immigration are causing feelings of one’s culture being under threat and fears of a collective loss of identity.
There is evidently an added factor at play in that the aging section of the affluent society in particular perceives change as an imposition. People develop a defiant stance of rejection in the face of pressures to adapt to the consequences of the global economy. ‘Make America great again’ and ‘Take back control’ are populist responses to this frame of mind, which exert great attraction through the illusion of being able to return to a simpler, more predictable and manageable world.
Instead of shaping the future constructively, this is about recreating an imaginary past that never existed in the first place.
Brexit and Trump clearly illustrate that what we need are personalities with attitude and a good image, who look forward to shaping the future in a positive frame of mind and can develop ‘dynamics of hope’ rather than ‘dynamics of fear’ (Jean Monnet). Trump was only strong because of Clinton’s weakness.
Cultural pessimism, doomsday scenarios and scaremongering have no place in Christian democratic politics. When looking around Europe, one can easily identify the leading populists. On the side of those who want to manage change with a confident outlook, Angela Merkel now stands almost alone.
We need to move beyond political correctness
Professor of History of Philosophy, Università degli Studi del Molise, Italy
From the recent US Presidential election and from Brexit we can learn some useful lessons. First, coalitions between the mainstream centre-right and centre-left do not work. The attempt to put together all ‘responsible’ people who belong to the mainstream intellectual culture of social-democratic values and globalised economic liberalism fails because it excludes the majority of the people. This coalition is doomed because it appears as an elitist project against which everyone else rebels and wins.
Second, we learned that we need a real left-right dialectic in order to fight the so-called ‘populism’. An Italian example will clarify what I mean. In the recent municipal elections, the Five Stars Movement won in Rome and Turin where, at the second round, the race was between their candidate and the mainstream candidate. However, in Milan, where the centre-right and centre-left parties presented two different and credible candidates, the Five Stars Movement did not even qualify for the second round.
Third, we need to reflect about populism. In order to rebuild a successful centre-right one should look at the needs expressed by those who are voting for the so-called ‘populists’ and offer clear centre-right solutions that are distinctly opposed to the centre-left perspective. On Europe, for example, the idea of a ‘slim federalism’ that is strong on security and foreign policy but weak on internal economic regulation (real subsidiarity) should be adopted, together with a recognition of the Christian roots of Western values.
Finally, we should stop talking about populism as if it was an undifferentiated phenomenon. Although he gathered grassroots support from people who did not feel represented by US mainstream politics, Trump is a conservative. He won regular primaries of the GOP defeating 16 candidates. He then won the presidential election with sixty million votes and he has a strong political agenda. One might like or dislike his political platform, but make no mistake, he is not the same as Marine Le Pen or Beppe Grillo.
It’s about communication, too!
Deputy Director, Civic Institute, Poland
Both the Brexit referendum and the US presidential election have demonstrated to what extent large parts of society disapprove of the political, economic and social status quo. One conclusion seems relevant to every liberal democracy: rapidly changing patterns in communication. The total dominance of online media – with the particular importance of social media – is coming.
Only a few years ago many believed that social media would strengthen democracy by allowing people to have a say and freely share information. This year proved that they were wrong. To a large extent, social media have become a source of misinformation, not information. Instead of strengthening public debate, they poisoned it with lies and inflammatory language. Instead of being the harbour of free speech, online-based platforms became the amplifiers of hate.
During the US presidential election, for the first time in history, fake news outpaced real news in terms of public engagement. More voters were exposed to lies than to the truth. Millions of voters were given a false picture of events. It would be foolish to think that this did not influence their voting decisions. In the last century, when new, revolutionary media appeared – the radio and later the TV – democracies decided to regulate them.
Democratic oversight and independent regulatory bodies were established. Laws were enacted to protect the impartiality and truthfulness of the broadcast. Like the printed press, the radio and the TV broadcasters were legally responsible for the content they aired. In case of online-based social media, no such regulations exist. We urgently need to think how to fill this void.
Dr. Žiga Turk,
Professor, University of Ljubljana
The message from the success of Brexit, Trump and some so-called populist movements in Europe is that identity matters. Identity matters, as particularly the US elections demonstrated, not only the minority identities of Afro-Americans, Hispanics, Gays, feminists, etc. Majority identity matters.
The scientific explanation comes from Moral Foundations Theory. It claims that people – voters included – often decide intuitively and not necessarily rationally. We base our intuitive decisions on six different moral foundations: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity. The progressives are generally associated with the first three of the six foundations. Conservatives, in addition, are associated with the foundations of loyalty, authority and sanctity as well.
In his campaign Trump successfully addressed the loyalty to America and the need for authority in American leadership. Meanwhile, his running mate Mike Pence covered the issue of sanctity of American Christians.
This is perfectly illustrated in a post-electoral tweet of Mr. Trump, addressed to protesters rioting against him: ‘Imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people under one God saluting one flag.’ To those of us immersed in political correctness this sounds almost like ‘ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer’. But Trump’s message is just a warning of what happens if the centrist democratic politicians fail to base their policies firmly on the entire spectrum of people’s moral foundations.
The values of the liberal world order are not only democracy, freedom, respect of law and respect of people regardless of their origin, the colour of their skin, their religion, gender, sexual orientation or their political beliefs. Our common values also include loyalty to our culture, love for our homeland and respect of our traditions and religions.
It is the unique task of conservatives in general and the EPP in particular to bring those values back into the liberal world order in a positive and constructive way. The socialists and the liberals will not accomplish this because they lack intuitive understanding of it. If the EPP does not do it, someone else will. And then it will not be benign.
This balance of values is a unique contribution for preserving the world as we know it, a contribution that only the EPP can and therefore should make.WMCES Editor Brexit Centre-Right Elections EU Member States EU-US Values
Brexit and Trump: lessons for the centre-right
30 Nov 2016
Immediately after Donald Trump was elected 45th President of the United States, many commentators have suggested that his policies toward Russia will not be as accommodating as his campaign rhetoric on Vladimir Putin, and that Trump may eventually become a difficult counterpart for the current Russian leadership. Arguments for that theory include, among others, persistent fundamental differences on certain issues, Putin’s unreliability and unpredictability, Trump’s focus on ‘America First’, pressure from certain anti-Putin forces in the GOP establishment, etc.
However, all these arguments consider only the bilateral U.S.-Russia dimension as if it existed in a vacuum. But if you put Trump-Russia relations in the broader global context that is about to emerge because of Trump’s presidency, all these differences and problems don’t stand a chance to outweigh a perfect global match between the common interests of both Putin and Trump.
Trump’s foreign policy is largely uncharted waters, but one thing is very clear – he will be involved in many important global conflicts. Rearranging NAFTA and other trade agreements, dealing with China as a rising power, loads of issues in the Middle East (Syria and the potential scrapping of the Iranian nuclear deal to begin with, but there’s always so much more in that particular region).
What do you do when you’re about to engage in many tough battles of global significance, and want to cover your flanks and back? One of the first things – you look for important players with whom you can reach a solid ‘ceasefire’ to untie your hands for bigger things. This is what Turkish President Erdogan did a few months ago, almost simultaneously reaching out for a thaw with Russia and Israel, relations with both of whom were quite difficult recently, to untie his hands for multiple other ventures both at home and abroad.
In Trump’s case, Putin’s Russia dangerously fits into this fundamental logic. There are clear signs in Moscow that Putin has been carefully preparing for ways to approach Trump. He’ll appeal to his business logic (the flip side of which is his complete lack of experience in public governance and international affairs) and offer him a “deal” – the term so dear to the newly elected U.S. leader: Give me back some of the minor stuff which stands in the way of our relationship (Ukraine, human rights in Russia, financial sanctions) – and I’ll support you in your bigger global efforts.
Given Putin’s skills in psychology and recruitment inherited from his earlier profession – which were so brilliantly used initially with George W. Bush, for whom just one look into Putin’s “soul” seems to have overshadowed all Russian authoritarian trends in the beginning of Putin’s rule – that looks quite achievable.
Yes, on the other hand, there are established Republicans demanding sanctions for human rights violations – but Trump would easily answer by keeping in place the personal sanctions lists against Russian officials, such as the Magnitsky list, which, in fact, is not too much of a problem for Putin. The key problem for him are the financial sanctions imposed by the Obama administration – and here, there are huge U.S. corporate interests behind lifting those.
Lifting financial sanctions and keeping the window-dressing lists of Russian human-rights abusers banned from entry into the U.S.: Putin will be happy with that. What he wants most is to return to major borrowing in the Western financial markets, not allowing his prosecutors and judges to freely travel to Miami (in fact, Putin himself had recently prohibited all these people from travelling abroad).
Ukraine? Putin may even offer a real de-escalation in Donbass in return for a more general U.S. withdrawal from political and financial support for the current Ukrainian government. This would also give an opportunity to Trump to say ‘See, I’ve achieved what Obama couldn’t – real peace in Eastern Ukraine’.
This is how a big Trump-Putin deal might look like – and nothing serious seems to stand in its way, given Trump’s priorities focused on other things, and Putin’s apparent readiness to propose and psychologically ‘sell’ this new U.S.-Russia non-aggression pact.Vladimir Milov EU-Russia EU-US Foreign Policy Transatlantic Values
The Art of the (Trump-Putin) Deal
14 Nov 2016
A tentative response to a groundbreaking US election.
Of course, the election of Donald Trump to 45th President of the United States is an unmitigated disaster for the US, for the West and therefore for the entire world. Of course, with all her faults, Hillary Clinton would have been by far the better President. But what’s done, is done, and the questions to be answered now are: How did we get here? How bad will it get? And what should Europeans do?
The wave of populist anger sweeping through the West has been amply described in past weeks. It would have had its effects even on a Clinton administration. It’s driven by identity politics as well as fears of globalisation, and of course by economic grievances. It certainly is facilitated by the acceleration, anonymity and the echo chamber effect of social media.
And quite obviously, in the case of the US, Republicans share the blame, with their congressional divisiveness that has become an ideology, and their demonisation of Obama and Clinton. The Clinton campaign will be torn to pieces, in hindsight.
The question is whether all this should be cast as a titanic battle between the forces of open vs. closed. I’m afraid the US election (just like the Brexit referendum in June) has shown that doing so risks putting the majority of people on the side of closed because the more unified ‘moderate forces’ act, the more they will be seen as one elitist conspiracy.
Hence, here is a first conclusion: Europe’s big tent, catch-all people’s parties will have to take care not to appear united against worried voters, but give different answers according to their ideological differences that have not magically disappeared because of a new paradigm discovered by the editorial offices of the Guardian and the Economist.
What happens now?
As far as we’ve heard over the past months, Trump’s ideas for office range from the ludicrous to the scary, from building the wall and making Mexico pay for it, to banning Muslims from entering the country, renegotiating all existing trade deals, jailing Hillary, ‘bombing the shit out of IS’ and striking a deal with Putin. But let’s remember that he is not alone.
There are checks and balances at work in the US that he cannot easily swipe aside. So the ludicrous ideas will take care of themselves, and for the scary ones, the hope of the world rests in Congress, even with a Republican majority: Especially on any bargain with Putin, House and Senate Republicans are very unlikely to follow.
Having said all that, of course President Trump can cause enormous damage especially in foreign relations where he needs less Congressional approval than for domestic affairs. But to now claim with certainty that we’re looking at the end of the West may be self-defeating. We simply know too little about what the Trump administration will really do.
It would be easy to say that Trump’s presidency is just what it takes to get Europeans to get their act together and make a dash for the ‘United States of Europe’ – if it wasn’t for all those other jolts in recent years that have failed to unify us, against expectations, such as the financial crisis, the migration crisis and the Brexit referendum. Of course, the US election may well be a bigger shakeup than all those combined. Nevertheless, a ‘federalist surge’ in the EU is doomed to fail because it would unleash the same reaction we have seen in Britain and the US this year.
What we do need now is a level-headed approach, based on our core values, i.e. liberal democracy which, as it happened, has taken a blow last night. But the centuries-old project of the enlightenment is alive unless we give it up. Naturally, authoritarian leaders across the world will rejoice now, pointing to the US election. But it is up to all democrats to show that democracy, while not perfect, is able to correct its mistakes.
The European Union will have to shoulder more of the burden of defending itself against threats from the East and the South – that would have been the case even with a Clinton administration. Stronger European defence structures within NATO, and better cooperation of law enforcement, are now more necessary than ever. Striving for a soft Brexit, and strong structures of cooperation with Great Britain, becomes even more important now, although the challenges are formidable.
Economically, we need to buckle up for a new downturn but that should only reinforce our resolve to make EU economies more competitive, and the Single Market more performing. And the Euro crisis has taught us that the key to this is with the member state governments, not the EU’s institutions. Last but not least, yes, we will have to cooperate with a President Trump, as ludicrous as it sounds.
All this is sketchy and will have to be adapted as the policies of the Trump administration take shape over the next couple of weeks. We are looking at a less predictable US and therefore at a riskier world than ever before. But above all, as we have learned from the other nine-eleven 15 years ago, it’s important not to overreact.Roland Freudenstein EU-US European Union Transatlantic Values
Our Transatlantic 9-11
09 Nov 2016
Whatever the result of the 2016 US presidential election, it will signal a new era of political communication. Candidate Donald Trump defeated 16 contenders in the Republican primaries, most of them Republican Party insiders.
There are several reasons for this unexpected turn of events. One of them is the different kind of communication that Trump employs. Trump’s communication method, like that of the Five Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle) in Italy, uses a high number of icons (signs that represent objects by their similarity, such as images) instead of the indexes (signs that indicate their object by contiguity, such as tags, labels and proper names) that have characterised the last 20 years of political communication.
This change encourages politicians to focus on communication as a ‘complete gesture’, and as a meaningful action that creates an ambience rather than stressing the role of the leader. This paper deals with the semiotic characteristics of this new kind of communication and explains the consequent key features of successful political communication in the coming years.
Read the full article in the December 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Giovanni Maddalena Elections EU-US Political Parties Populism
Political communication in the (iconic) Trump epoch
21 Oct 2016
Yes, he’s vulgar, self-obsessed, sexist, racist and full of lies. He has never held elected office, no governing experience, and no recognisable plan. There’s no question that a Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster for the United States, its partners and the world. The question is whether it would be the end of the West as we know it, as Anne Applebaum wrote.
As far as Europe is concerned, much of the apocalyptic warnings we are hearing after Super Tuesday are based on a lack of knowledge about how American democracy actually works. Take an example: A German commentator on 2 March described what he considers Europe’s worst nightmare: being ‘squeezed between Putin, the ice cold cynic, and Trump, the boastful narcissist.’ Now, this statement, first of all, harks back to the time-honoured tradition of many Europeans to place themselves politically somewhere in equal distance between the United States and Russia. So far, so bad. But second, and more importantly, putting Putin and Trump on the same level completely ignores (or willfully sidelines) the powerful checks and balances that the Founding Fathers built into the American polity – and that are completely absent in Putin’s authoritarian kleptocracy.
These checks and balances are present on both the formal and informal levels. On the formal side, Congress is arguably the strongest. In case of a narrow victory in November (a landslide can be, frankly speaking, neatly excluded), I consider it very doubtful that a President Trump could amass a Congressional majority – so he would have to constantly negotiate: at which he excels, in his own words, but which means that many of his ‘projects’ would not see the light of day the way he is boasting about them now.
But there is also the Supreme Court and the States. Finally, there are international commitments that would be protected, if push came to shove, by soldiers and public servants disobeying presidential orders should they fly in the face of international law. Add to this the powerful informal checks and balances, such as public opinion, civil society and Wall Street, and you have a strategic difference between a hypothetical US under Trump and the very real Russia under Putin. European commentators too often overlook this.
Having said all that, many moderate Americans, including many conservatives, are also spooked by the prospect of a Trump presidency. Even they invoke the nightmare prospect of a Trump presidency taking an authoritarian turn but the urgency of their appeals may be explained by the fact that they are in the position of actually being able to influence America’s development over the upcoming months, contrary to Europeans whose attempts to help liberal American presidential candidates (for example in 2004) have never been helpful, to put it mildly.
Moreover, the tendency for Europeans to overlook or underestimate the positive role that checks and balances can play against the potentially authoritarian tendencies of a democratically elected executive, should be taken as an incentive: to talk more, and more persistently about the crucial importance of checks and balances and the rule of law in Europe itself. Because in politics, for every ugly American, there are three ugly Europeans, ranging from Nigel Farage to Jarosław Kaczyński to Marine Le Pen, with a bunch of ‘centre right’ and socialist leaders in between.
All these ladies and gentlemen feel uncomfortable with an independent judiciary, free and critical media, an impartial public service and strong and vibrant civil society. Many of them believe that once their government has been democratically elected, checks and balances only help the rich, the strong, the old elites or some strange minorities to continue to ‘impose their will’ upon the hard-working, God-fearing, tax-paying majorities. In other words, strengthening European discourse about making democracy safer against threats from within would be one healthy reaction to the – hopefully hypothetical – prospect of a Trump presidency.
The other one would be for Europe to get its act together – a tall order, admittedly, looking at the unprecedented mess we are facing at the moment. But we should never tire of trying to find the right mixture of subsidiarity (and that can mean devolution, in some cases) and united strength that will be required if we don’t want to give America’s new isolationists (and of these, there are far more than just one Donald Trump) an excuse to withdraw from the Transatlantic alliance.Roland Freudenstein Elections EU-US
Trump – the ugly American and the rule of law
07 Mar 2016
In 2015 the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies once again showed itself to be a mature organisation with an established position on the European think tank scene.Centre-Right EU Member States EU-US
Activity Report 2015
01 Mar 2016
These are unsettling times for the US and Europe. On the transatlantic periphery, the Islamic State (IS) is destabilising Syria and Iraq, Russia is fighting a ‘Cold Peace’ with Ukraine, and NATO’s eastern flank looks wobbly and exposed. All the while, Russian forces are projecting power into the Middle East and an increasingly assertive Chinese navy is probing the waters of North America and the Mediterranean (Bugajski2004; Lucas 2015; Sciutto 2015; Holmes 2015).
If the frontiers look troubled, the home fronts are not especially calm either. On both sides of the Atlantic, democratic polities are grappling with the plight of refugees and undocumented immigrants, the perils of bloated deficits, and the shock of sporadic, politically motivated violence. If there was ever a time to forge a confident, transatlantic response to shared policy dilemmas, this is the ideal moment. Yet out on the US presidential campaign trail, iron-clad solidarity with Europe is not universal.
American foreign policy is fast approaching a decision point. Will the US turn inward or outward during the next presidential administration; will President Barack Obama’s successor muster the financial resources to deter rising competitors and restore tranquillity to the global commons; and what, if anything, are Europeans to make of the unusually large crop of 2016 presidential hopefuls? The answers that each campaign offers to these questions provide insight into the next phase of the transatlantic relationship. Unfortunately, some of the answers currently set forth are troubling.
Read the full FREE article published in the December 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Peter Doran EU-US Foreign Policy Transatlantic
America’s new direction in foreign policy
23 Dec 2015
While both the EU and the US consider support for civil society an inseparable part of international democracy support schemes, they differ in their understanding of who the key partners for transformation are. US aid to support democratic change in societies includes providing assistance to non-governmental organisations, political parties, trade unions and businesses. In contrast, the EU restricts access to its support primarily to the non-political part of the civil society spectrum.
Including political parties and political non-governmental organisations among EU aid recipients would be a quantum leap on the way to a stronger and more comprehensive transition to democracy. This article lays down arguments to support this proposal, draws on ideas from the US experience and outlines basic schemes for its implementation.
Read the full FREE article published in the December 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Miriam Lexmann Democracy EU-US Political Parties
No party, no society: the EU’s and the US’s differing approaches to providing international aid to political parties
08 Dec 2015
In these turbulent times, we very much need allies, partners and friends we can rely on and work with. Our partnerships have to be based on trust and a vision, but also on concrete cooperation—political, economic, military and cultural. The US and Europe have been natural partners from the start. Over time they have created a common space where the values of human dignity, freedom and responsibility, and solidarity are paramount. These values are now being threatened by independent groups of violent extremists, who are spreading terror worldwide, and by non-democratic regimes that are challenging our liberal-democratic order.
The US and Europe need to continue to stand their ground and be strong together. We have to defend what we believe in and assist others who cannot defend themselves. As prime minister of Slovakia, I have personally experienced the success of transatlantic cooperation. The vision of transatlantic unity between the US and Western Europe has brought democracy and a sustainable economy to Central and Eastern Europe.
The region has come a long way, but we can never sit still. I see unnerving developments in some of the neighbouring countries, and it reminds me that we need to continually reach higher: to keep liberal democracy as the basis of our societies, where non-governmental organisations and political parties can freely develop and play active roles.
Still recovering from the economic crisis, Europe and the US need to push harder to get back to the standard of living they enjoyed before 2008. There can be no doubt that our common economic agenda is driven by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Not only will TTIP bring us more jobs and economic growth, but it will also enable us to set high standards for products. And if it includes an investor–state dispute settlement clause, then—despite what the treaty’s opponents would have us believe—TTIP will strengthen the rule of law.
This is because it will protect both states and companies by providing for the minimum standard of treatment required under international law. Therefore, it is rather unsettling that TTIP is facing so much hostility. As partners, the US and Europe need to proceed in the conviction that what we are doing will benefit both parties to the negotiations. It is important that our citizens should also be convinced of this. A strong communication strategy should be put in place to make TTIP opponents see the flaws in their reasoning.
The US and the EU have sometimes approached foreign policy very differently, but their aim has always been the same: to secure a free and safe world. We need to determine how we can best cooperate with rising powers such as Russia, China and Iran. But if necessary, we must endeavour to compel them to respect human dignity and democracy. The West’s foreign policy goals have sometimes been frustrated by its energy needs.
The US’s energy revolution and the EU’s policy of energy diversification may ease this tension a little. However, our growing energy independence cannot become a reason to retreat from the responsibilities we have regarding the citizens of countries that are rich in energy but lacking in freedom.
This issue of the European View addresses the urgent problems outlined above. As we consider the transatlantic relationship, we should bear the following in mind: what challenges lie ahead, what can we learn from each other and what is the way forward?
The transatlantic partnership is strong. We are partners with the same goal on the horizon: a whole and free world.This editorial was originally published in the December 2015 issue of the European View, Martens Centre’s policy journal.Mikuláš Dzurinda EU-US Foreign Policy Leadership Transatlantic
Revitalising transatlantic relations
08 Dec 2015
In June 2013, Presidents Obama, Barroso and Van Rompuy launched negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an agreement meant to create growth and jobs in both the US and Europe by stimulating trade and investment flows between them (The White House 2013). The agreement was also widely heralded as having geostrategic implications, bringing the two largest supporters of democracy and the rule of law closer together.
Instead, several years on, TTIP seems to be pushing them apart. One of the main reasons for this is the public outcry in Europe against investor–state dispute settlement, or ISDS. Indeed, the criticism of ISDS is so heated that many, sick of the topic, will not read beyond the title of this piece—few in Europe want to hear about ISDS again if they can help it. But ignoring the issue does not help. The opposition to ISDS, in TTIP and beyond, has weakened and indeed possibly insidiously undermined support in Europe for the rule of law.
In fact, the reaction in Europe against ISDS has been so strong that in January 2014 the Commission suspended negotiations on the investment pillar of TTIP (European Commission 2014a) and launched a public consultation about it—a consultation in which over 98 % of the 150,000 or so respondents condemned ISDS, and opposed its inclusion in TTIP (European Commission 2015b). I
n July 2015, the European Parliament responded to this by adopting a resolution on TTIP that, among other things, called for a wholesale reform of ISDS (European Parliament 2015). ‘ISDS as we know it is dead,’ the President of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, proclaimed (Euractiv 2015). Then, in September 2015, the European Commission proposed a new ‘court system’ for investment disputes under TTIP that it argued would spell the end of ISDS (European Commission 2015a).
In so doing, the Commission has unwittingly reinforced unfounded concerns about ISDS, at the same time causing many to ask whether the fuss is about ISDS, TTIP, the US or, more fundamentally, the rule of law in international relations. This, more than the strife about TTIP, is where the debate in Europe over ISDS threatens to increase the divide between the US and the EU. If the EU walks away from ISDS, an important component of the rule of law, the US will not follow.
Those who see the benefits of bringing the US and the EU closer together, who share the vision of the world’s two largest economies working together to strengthen the rule of law, need to better understand what ISDS is, so that they can respond to the concerns people have about it. That is the purpose of this piece: to bring this conversation back to where it belongs—the importance of the rule of law, a principle that citizens on both sides of the Atlantic support.
Read the full FREE article published in the December 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Peter Chase EU-US Trade Transatlantic
TTIP, ISDS and the rule of law
01 Dec 2015
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, better known as TTIP, is a trade deal between the world’s two biggest economies—the EU and the US. By lowering non-tariff barriers and setting common rules, it promises to bring a post-crisis boost to Europe and refresh the old alliance. But this Euro-Atlantic partnership also has its detractors. The critics are few but they have been making their voices clearly heard ever since the European Commission received the mandate for negotiations in July 2013.
Despite the Commission’s hard work to bust the myths surrounding the agreement, it seems to be easier for people to unite in opposition to it. This year dozens of protests have taken place across Europe and anti-TTIP campaigns have mushroomed on social media. In addition, Julian Assange’s Wikileaks has publicly claimed that the deal lacks transparency. The news leaks organisation has launched a campaign to crowd-source a €100,000 reward for ‘Europe’s most wanted secret’—the prize will go to anyone who can secure information on TTIP (Wikileaks 2015).
The reasons for such criticism of the deal are eclectic—from a general anti-US attitude, to claims that the deal will empower multinational corporations and fears of losing control over the high standards of food on the European market. Scaremongering and misinformation are unavoidable obstacles when discussing far-reaching supranational agreements—and the bigger the agreement, the greater the fear. With the US and the EU accounting for almost 45 % of global trade and 60 % of global investment flows (Berger 2014), TTIP would become the biggest trade deal of its kind.
There are three broad areas being negotiated under the EU–US trade deal: market access for businesses, regulatory cooperation and international rules to address global challenges. The two economic super-blocs have one of the most integrated markets in the world and tariffs between them are already very low at less than 3 % (European Commission 2015a). The crucial part of the agreement is therefore its second pillar, which aims to reduce non-tariff barriers and standardise regulations.
Coherence in standards on both shores of the Atlantic would increase efficiency, cut bureaucratic costs and have major economic benefits. It would also become a powerful tool to ensure that such standards are advanced globally, thus helping to promote the spillover of Western-style trade rules. But neither ‘regulatory cooperation’ nor ‘liberalising trade’ seem to be popular enough topics to take the lead in public discussions.
There is a shortage of empirical data available to help European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström get the detractors of TTIP on her side. Its critics say there is a lot to lose and little to gain (The Economist 2015). Instead of an economic narrative, those advocating a comprehensive deal should focus on storytelling that makes it easier to understand what is at stake and gives the potential geopolitical impact of the agreement a prominent role.
Beyond economics: the geopolitical importance of TTIP
30 Nov 2015
Both the US and Europe are grappling with migration systems in need of reform and repair. The US has made several attempts towards a comprehensive reform of its immigration system, but partisan divides stand in the way. With large numbers of migrants and asylum seekers coming to Europe, EU leaders have been forced to address the broken Dublin system. It has become clear that the current refugee crisis is not just a European crisis. The US has also been facing a humanitarian crisis, one less noticed by Europeans.
With an unprecedented number of unaccompanied minors trying to make their way to the US from Central American countries, the US, like Europe, is tasked with balancing humanitarian protection and border control requirements. In response, the US has employed policy responses to bring down the number of unaccompanied minors. These measures can provide insights for Europe.
Broken systems: the 2014 humanitarian crisis in the US and policy insights for Europe
25 Nov 2015
The West has exercised international hegemony since the Middle Ages. The European states, until 1918, and the US, up to the end of the Cold War, proved capable of imposing their leadership through their military and economic dominance. Today, however, the Western nations are not the only world powers. China, India, Russia and some Islamic countries share global leadership with the US, while Europe is struggling to find a way to be relevant in the twenty-first century.
Merely constituting a massive common market is insufficient. In this endeavour Europe is not taking advantage of its most valuable asset: its rich cultural legacy, rooted in thousands of years of history. Ironically, the young US has thus far done a better job of projecting power globally by exploiting its soft power. Placing the humanities back at the centre of education would be the best way for Europeans to recover both their identity and an important role on the world stage.
Bruno Aguilera Barchet
Europeans: don’t be afraid of your culture!
23 Nov 2015
A crucial negotiating session will take place in Miami, Florida from 19 to 23 October on the terms of a possible US-EU trade and investment pact. An independent study by Copenhagen Economics has calculated that a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP) would add 1.1% to Ireland’s GDP. This is twice the rate of gain that would be experienced by the European Union as a whole.
I spoke recently at a seminar organised by the European Ideas Network (EIN) which is a think tank associated with the parliamentary group of the European Peoples Party, the biggest party in the European Parliament. I said that TTIP would be good for Europe because:
- It would reduce the cost of regulation by eliminating the necessity for duplicate standard setting and inspection regimes, the cost of which has to me met by the consumer without any compensating benefit
- The reductions in the cost of regulation would disproportionately help small and medium sized businesses to break into the transatlantic market. The present duplicative system acts as a barrier to entry and helps bigger well established companies keep markets to themselves
- It would open the US Federal, State and local government market to European tenders, who are now discriminated against by “buy America” rules, which deliver poor value to US taxpayers
- It would help high tech start up businesses on both sides of the Atlantic by creating a single market of almost 1 billion consumers
- It would help to keep Britain in the EU, in order for it to access this market. A failure to conclude TTIP could, on the other hand, push the UK towards the exit, on the supposition that it might be able to negotiate better on its own
- It would give a confidence boost to the global economy at a time when the burden of debt precludes other forms of stimulus
There is, unfortunately, quite a bit of opposition, in Germany and Austria in particular, to the conclusion of TTIP. This seems to be linked to a general suspicion of globalisation and a perception that it adds to inequality. Austrians are 53% to 35% against, Germans 41% to 39% and Luxembourgers 43% to 40% against. The rest of the EU is pretty overwhelmingly in favour with the biggest favourable votes in Ireland and Denmark, at 71%.
On the far side of the Atlantic, trade is not a big concern of Americans. Their big concerns, according the Pew Research Centre, remain international terrorism and building up their own economy. 69% of American under 28 believe trade deals are good, as against only 50% of over 65s.
Interestingly, 59% of Democrats favour concluding TTIP, whereas only 45% of Republican voters do so. This is opposite to the traditional position in the US Congress, where Republican Congress members generally favoured freer trade, and Democrats often did not. US public opinion will be less willing to accept European standards until the trust, damaged by the Volkswagen and LIBOR scandals, is repaired.
It is also important to recognise that differing standards sometimes reflect genuine differences in priorities among populations. For example, Europeans put a higher value on data privacy. Americans probably put a higher value on national security. So the negotiations will be intensely political..John Bruton Business Economy EU-US Trade
Why TTIP is good
12 Oct 2015
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) aims to remove trade barriers between the world’s two largest economies – the EU and the US. The goal is to create growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. There are three pillars upon which any future agreement will be based:
1. Market access for businesses
2. Enhancing regulatory cooperation; and
3. Setting international rules
However, the opposition to TTIP in Europe has increased significantly. This opposition reflects broader discontent at existing political structures, the continuing fall-out of the economic crises evident in Europe since 2008 and the concerns many Europeans feel about the revelations concerning the National Security Agency (NSA). Empirical data, however positive, will not be sufficient to successfully counter anti-TTIP arguments. For many, the benefits are intangible and too long-term.
As noted by the British Parliament, “the traditional political hurdle for trade agreements is that potential benefits are diffuse while potential costs are concentrated”. In this context it is important not to rely disproportionately on headline quantitative data, but rather develop real narratives to counter anti-TTIP arguments, which are often not based on the realities underpinning the TTIP process.
IN FOCUS is a new series of commentaries in which the Martens Centre looks closely at current policy topics, dissects the available evidence and challenges prevailing opinions.Economy EU-US Trade Transatlantic
TTIP: 11 Myths Exposed
02 Apr 2015
The West is being challenged in an unprecedented way: as crises and conflicts multiply in the eastern and southern neighbourhoods of the EU, terrorist movements, authoritarian regimes and especially a newly aggressive, fundamentally antagonistic Putin’s Russia are threatening the core values as well as the cohesion of the West. But the West is stronger than it looks and has lost none of its normative attraction to democrats across the globe or the subversive power that authoritarian regimes fear. A West that is rising to the challenges can open the way to a bright future: a Western Renaissance.
The confrontation with a newly aggressive Russia is the most severe test. The European Union has to bury the idea of a modernisation partnership with Russia as long as the Putin regime is in power, let go of its Russia First approach, engage massively on reform in Eastern Europe and learn to accept the reality of a substantial conflict with Russia.
The EU as an organisation must become stronger economically, streamline its decision-making structures and improve its security and defence policy while intensifying links with NATO. It has to reform its eastern neighbourhood policy and reduce its energy dependence on Russia. NATO members will have to increase defence spending, reform structures and find new answers to the challenge of hybrid warfare. EU member states will also have to find answers to the growing Russian propaganda and information warfare.
Transatlantic relations remain the foundation of the global liberal order. They have to be strengthened and put on a more strategic basis. This includes much more determination on both sides to make the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership a success. But it also implies a better burden sharing, with Europe assuming more responsibility in security and strategy, and improved Euro-American coordination in global democracy support.Crisis Democracy EU-US Leadership Transatlantic
The Renaissance of the West: How Europe and America Can Shape Up in Confronting Putin’s Russia
24 Feb 2015
The weekends of February and March 2014 will be remembered for a long time to come. Russia’s unprovoked military attack on Ukraine has taken most of the West by surprise, and the implications of the intervention are staggering.
NATO and the EU are shell-shocked and still figuring out how to react. Direct military involvement is out of the question. But there are a few other things the West can do. Here are some ideas, which relate to mind-sets as much as to concrete actions.
First and foremost, the West must act together—notwithstanding the slightly undiplomatic reference to the EU made by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland. In fact, the Ukraine crisis could be the beginning of nothing less than a direly needed transatlantic reset.
In their joint efforts, the United States and Western Europe should take the newest NATO and EU member states in Central Europe more seriously. They should stop assuming that these countries are somehow traumatized by Russia and therefore slightly irrational. The West should use these nations’ knowledge and creativity on issues from cyberdefense to intelligence collection to their fullest potential.
The West has much to learn from Central Europe’s transformative experiences after the fall of Communism. It should apply that knowledge better to support democracy and the rule of law among Eastern partners, not only Ukraine. The EU should heed Central European states’ proposals for better energy networks and reduced dependence on Russian gas and oil. And the West must reassure countries with strong Russian minorities, if necessary by military exercises or redeployments of NATO forces.
There are also a number of sanctions the West can enact immediately: it can exclude Russia from the G8 group of industrialized nations, issue travel bans against Russian oligarchs and leaders, and freeze their assets. But these are only pinpricks, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has probably factored in to his actions. To take a real stand, the West will have to define Russia as a threat to its core values.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that diplomacy means seeing the world through the eyes of others. Even if that is true, diplomacy does not work unless it is firmly rooted in a system of values that one can defend against one’s adversaries. For the West, that does not exclude the option of talking to Russia. But the West must build up its military muscle, its capacities for intelligence gathering, its instruments for democracy support, and its long-term planning to counter the Russian threat.
The current Ukrainian crisis is ultimately about Russia’s future. Contrary to what some observers have said, this is not the last stirring of the Soviet Union. Rather, it is a reassertion of a deep-seated Russian pathology of which Soviet Communism was only one expression. The sleazy, aggressive authoritarianism that the West is witnessing now is another expression—and one that the West must mobilize against.
Europe and the United States need to find a new quality of response to the Ukrainian crisis, in both the short and the long term. To paraphrase a quote often misattributed to Winston Churchill: the West will end up doing the right thing, after it has exhausted all other possibilities!
[Originally published by www.carnegieeurope.eu]Roland Freudenstein Democracy Eastern Europe EU-Russia EU-US Transatlantic
Russia’s war on Ukraine and the coming transatlantic reset
04 Mar 2014
Are the US President, and the US Congress forgetting the rest of the world?John Bruton Economy EU-US
Are the US President, and the US Congress forgetting the rest of the world?
16 Oct 2013
The relationship between our two continents is not a new one. Our people are intertwined in a long and complex history, one which is steeped in mutual respect, assistance and friendship. Our history of course was not always idyllic, nor have we always seen eye to eye. But as is always the case with old friends, we have worked through our troubles, and have always been there for each other in times of need.
Today, all eyes are firmly locked on the economic and trading aspect of our relationship. This, of course, is in no small part due to the recent launch of negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The scope and potential of this agreement is immense, and I will return to it later. But first I would like to examine the essential nature of our special transatlantic friendship, from the perspective of stability, democracy and an enduring peace.
Two summers ago, I holidayed with my husband in France. We spent 10 days driving around Normandy, visiting the beaches, graveyards and landmarks associated with the World War 2 “Normandy landings” of 1944. These sites, where countless lives were lost, in defense of truth and democracy, reminded me of the special connection between our two great continents. Standing at Pointe du Hoc, I was particularly conscious of the words of Ronald Reagan, when he stood on that same headland on the 40th anniversary of the DDay Landings. The very spot where the allied troops had stormed to liberate Europe from the tyranny of Nazism. He said:
“Today, in their memory, and for all who fought here, we celebrate the triumph of democracy. We reaffirm the unity of democratic peoples who fought a war and then joined with the vanquished in a firm resolve to keep the peace. From a terrible war we learned that unity made us invincible; now, in peace, that same unity makes us secure. We sought to bring all freedom-loving nations together in a community dedicated to the defense and preservation of our sacred values. Our alliance, forged in the crucible of war, tempered and shaped by the realities of the postwar world, has succeeded. In Europe, the threat has been contained, the peace has been kept.”
Whatever about conjuring up the savagery of that war today, it must have been chilling, yet exhilarating for President Reagan to stand there, just 40 years after tens of thousands of men had lost their lives in that very place, realizing the scale of the tragedy which occurred, but also knowing that out of that tragedy, had grown a real and enduring common purpose.
That purpose, on both sides of the Atlantic, was to leave behind a redundant skepticism and nationalism borne out of suspicion and fear. It was to understand that by building trust, and forging close and intense relationships, both within Europe and between Europe and the United States, we could ensure a much brighter future for our people. And this we have done.
My family lost two members fighting Flanders Fields during World War 1, they would be great grand uncles of mine. In the first half of the last century, countless families the continent of Europe were touched by war, as they were all over the United States of America. We resolved to end the bloodshed and pool our might to create something much stronger, much more satisfying. And we have succeeded, with democracy and peace flourishing on both sides of the Atlantic. This is no mean feat.
But of course, we must do more. I firmly believe that if we are not moving forward, we always risk slipping backwards. Europe and America must now explore new and dynamic ways of moving forward together. We must, of course, always defend and promote our values. These are the shared values which we believe integral to the protection and respect of mankind. Values, based on essential freedoms – freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religious practice, freedom of conscience. These are the values which underpin our shared respect for human rights, and which bind our democracy together.
These values are the threads that weave together the magnificent transatlantic tapestry of Europe and America. They are strong and durable, yet need careful attention, lest any of the carefully woven threads come loose. Building on these shared values, we see the immense potential that exists to do more – to weave Europe and America ever closer together. This is where the trading partnership presents such a vital opportunity.
We know our citizens are hurting. We know that since the shock of Lehman Brothers crossed the Atlantic like a tsunami, things have been difficult for both of us. In Europe we have a banking crisis that is not over, we have a significant debt crisis, and most worryingly of all we have a major unemployment crisis. We know that things are difficult Stateside too. You share many of these problems. To solve these enormous economic challenges, we must work together. There is no alternative.
In Europe we know we need to grow our economy, and we recognize that in the years ahead as much as 90% of future growth across the globe will be generated outside of Europe. Enhancing trade is one of the few ways to bolster much needed economic growth without drawing on severely constrained public finances. Advancing the external trade agenda therefore featured prominently on the Irish Presidency programme for the first 6 months of 2013, and it is no secret that Ireland has prioritised the EU-US trade relationship. This relationship simply makes sense for Europe and for the US
I don’t need to bore you with statistics, but it is a fact that the EU and the US enjoy the most integrated economic relationship in the world. Our economies account for about half the entire world GDP and for nearly a third of world trade flows. EU investment in the US is around eight times the amount of EU investment in India and China put together. Total US investment in the EU is three times higher than that in all of Asia. In other words: The transatlantic relationship defines the shape of the global economy as a whole. Either the EU or the US is the largest trade and investment partner for almost all other countries in the global economy. So we have already achieved much in terms of deepening our economic ties, but there is still much more to do.
It logically follows, that releasing the further untapped potential of the EU-US trade relationship, would provide significant benefit in terms of growth and jobs, on both sides of the Atlantic. Such deepening of our ties is both timely and very necessary. Our trade relationship has an enormous potential, which is far from being fully exploited. Currently 15 million jobs depend on EU-US trade. That is 15 million people either employed by European companies in the US or by American companies in the EU. Last year an OECD study demonstrated that the elimination of non tariff barriers to transatlantic trade and investment would boost US GDP by 2.5% and EU GDP by 3% annually.
There are also long-term benefits to unleashing the full potential of transatlantic trade: our mutual competitiveness in the global economy. As more and more production flows from the US and the EU to emerging economies we must face facts. In order to remain competitive in the global economy Europe and the US must innovate. Long-term evidence shows that the flow of trade and investment help spread new ideas and innovation, new technologies and the best research, leading to improvements in products and services. By investing in the EU-US trade potential, we are not only releasing short to medium-term economic and jobs growth, we are also ensuring the long-term sustainability of our economies’ competitiveness.
Given these enormous benefits, both in the medium and the long-term, I am delighted that a real momentum to advance transatlantic trade is emerging. So now the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are underway. And it only took 20 years for this breakthrough! I am keenly aware of the fact that there will be difficult choices for both sides to make now that the talks are underway in earnest. Given the low average tariffs, the key to unlocking the potential of our trade relationship lies in the tackling of non-tariff barriers, as highlighted by the OECD. These consist mainly of customs procedures and of diverging regulatory systems, but also other non-tariff measures, such as those related to certain aspects of security or consumer protection.
There will be difficult bridges to cross in the area of health and safety standards, public procurement and agriculture but I am convinced that if both sides take an open and flexible approach, we will be able to agree on regulatory issues – effectively setting the standard for world trade. An ambitious, comprehensive and far-reaching agreement on trade and investment between the EU and the US will not only trigger economic growth in our respective economies. It will also send a strong signal of leadership to other economic powers.
This is the least of our responsibilities to our citizens on both sides of the Atlantic. The challenges we face, arising from recession, depression, and the sovereign debt crisis, requires us to be brave, and to go where we haven’t ventured before. We have the formula to a accelerate towards a transatlantic market, which will create jobs, stimulate recovery and contribute to global growth. This formula can ensure much needed benefits for our businesses and our citizens. We must pursue a common vision, with a mutual sense of purpose, for this vision to become reality.
As Reagan said in Pointe du Hoc in 1984 “We were with you then; we are with you now. Your hopes are our hopes, and your destiny is our destiny.” Let us never forget how much more we can achieve together.
[Keynote speech given during the 4th Transatlantic Think Tank Conference, Washington, July 2013]Lucinda Creighton Economy EU-US Trade Transatlantic
A Union of Values, Respect, Democracy and Common Economic Interest
23 Jul 2013
The allegations by Edward Snowden that the United States National Security Agency (NSA), for which he worked, spied on diplomatic missions of the European Union in Washington and New York, and even on the building where EU Summits take place in Brussels, are very serious. They require a deliberate and sustained response, not something exaggerated, or that will last only for a one day news cycle, and later expose contradictions in the EU positions.
The truth is that fundamental values are at stake here for the EU. The founding idea of the EU was that relations in, and between, states should be governed by rules, rather than, as previously, by raw power. States and individuals should be equal before the law. The Snowden allegations, if true, reveal a grave breach on international law by an agency of the United States government. This is not something that can emoted about in the short term and then later brushed aside with a worldly wise and jaded shrug, on the basis that ”everyone is at it.”
A CLEAR BREACH OF THREE ARTICLES OF THE VIENNA CONVENTION
The law on this matter is crystal clear. The Vienna Convention of 1961 codifies the rules under which diplomats and embassies do their work. But the rules themselves go back, in customary international law, to the 16th century. The 1961 Vienna Convention has been ratified by the United States. Indeed the US relied successfully on that Convention in the International Court of Justice, when its own diplomats and Embassy were interfered with by Iran in 1979. It is in the national interest of the United States to ensure that this Convention is respected, without question, and as a matter of routine, in order to ensure protection for its own missions abroad.
The Vienna Convention says, in article 22:
“the premises of a (diplomatic) mission shall be inviolable”.
”A receiving state shall not enter them, except with the consent of the Head of Mission”
“The receiving state is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission from any intrusion.”
Article 24 of the Convention says the “archives and documents of the mission shall be inviolable” and Article 27 extends similar protection to it correspondence.
The Snowden/Der Spiegel allegations suggest that listening devices were placed in the EU Mission in Washington, without consent, which would be a blatant breach of Article 22. No such consent was given in my time in Washington. They also suggest that the NSA hacked into the computer system of the EU missions, which would be a clear breach of both article 24 and 27 of the Vienna Convention.
Reacting to these allegations, US figures, like the former head of the CIA, made no reference at all the US obligations under international law, to the US interest in protecting diplomacy, or even to the unfairness and bad faith involved in spying on partners with whom one is supposedly negotiating in a transparent way. Instead he sought to dismiss them, by hinting vaguely about intelligence gathering by some EU states.
But what is alleged was not a case of the US reciprocally countering supposed illegal activities by some EU states. It was hostile and illegal activity, by the US, directed against the EU itself, and the EU does not do have either the capacity, or the authority, to carry on any reciprocal surveillance of US missions in Europe, and does not do so. The ex head of the CIA knows that perfectly well.
In any event, I do not understand the point of what the NSA was supposedly doing. The activities of the EU Missions abroad and of the Council of Ministers in Brussels deal with subjects on which the facts are well known, and on which negotiating options are also fairly obvious. They can be easily discovered by US officials, simply by asking. They do not involve sensitive questions concerning the security of the United States, which is supposed to be the concern of the NSA.
There will, very occasionally, be commercially sensitive and confidential information shared with the EU Mission in Washington by European or American companies, which might be useful to its competitors. Apart from the illegality involved, the NSA would have no legitimate reason to seek out, collect, or share that sort of commercial information. I believe what is involved here is a case of a security bureaucracy gradually extending is role, and engaging in “mission creep” just because it can and because nobody is stopping it. The missions of Agencies are often lazily defined and open to multiple interpretations. That may well be the case with the NSA.
BUT TRADE AND INVESTMENT TALKS SHOULD CONTINUE
What should the EU do now? I will start by saying what it should not do.
It should not suspend the negotiation of a possible Trade and Investment Pact with the United States. In fact, it should recognise that these allegations strengthen the EU’s hand in these negotiations, in the sense that the US now has to demonstrate its good faith. Nor should it expect an early, full, or contrite admission from the United States of what might have happened, or make that a precondition for anything.
Instead, The EU should adopt a twin track approach. It should continue with the trade and investment negotiations, as if nothing had happened. But, simultaneously and separately, the EU and its member states should follow the example set by the United States itself in 1980 and take a case in regard to these allegations of breaches of the Vienna Convention to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. This assumes that it can obtain sufficient documentary evidence of the Snowden allegations from Mr Snowden, or from Der Spiegel. Pursuing a legal route would de-politicise the issue in the short term and allow time for things to cool down.
Surveillance technology has advanced a great deal since 1961 when the Convention was concluded. A new judgement from the International Court in this case would be helpful. It would re-establish and modernise the norms of behaviour we would want all countries to respect in future, notably emerging powers like China. President Obama, who, probably more than any previous President, understands the significance of international law, and who wants to bring countries like China fully within its strictures, should welcome such a robust reaffirmation of the Vienna Convention.
[Originally published in http://www.irishtimes.com]John Bruton EU-US Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
US spy affair: a case of international law?
11 Jul 2013
One week after the Boston bombings, with the perpetrators dead or arrested, we may not know the whole story yet. But we know that America is, once more, confronted by a case of ‘home-grown’ terrorism, i.e. an attack by people that, no matter where they originally came from, radicalised themselves and became jihadists while being residents of a Western country. Most previous comparable attacks were unsuccessful – this one was not. And in the ensuing debate about what can be done to prevent such attacks, we are experiencing a sense of déjà vu: just like in Europe after comparable attacks, foiled or successful, the knee-jerk reaction by the Left is to search the perpetrators’ curriculae for signs of disenfranchisement, of dashed hope and discrimination suffered at the hands of the host country’s majority. And the conclusion is invariably that if we could only become more tolerant, more open societies, such sad cases would not happen. Which is why the best preventive anti-terror strategy is anti-discrimination legislation, promoting a multi-cultural society and legalising all forms of immigration.
Conservatives in the US, unsurprisingly, took a different view. Some Republicans again questioned the President’s project of a new immigration bill, demanding much tighter restrictions on immigration in the future. Others took this opportunity to criticise gun control: during the manhunt, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still eluding police, gun lobbyists tweeted whether Boston area Democrats wouldn’t wish they had a semiautomatic rifle now. But the argument most often given by US conservatives is very simply that all other immigrant groups so far have integrated themselves – often in a long and sometimes painful process – without resorting to the kind of indiscriminate violence at play in Boston. So one might well discuss more efficient ways to integrate immigrants, and better early warning methods for law enforcement to detect radicalisation, as well as improved incentives for de-radicalisation. Maybe European experience can be of some help here. But on the central issue of multiculturalism, there is no reason to make an exception to the rule that no democracy can allow parallel societies – parts of immigrant populations where the basic values of our constitutions are systematically disregarded. Europe and America are today closer than ever before in having to meet this challenge. We should do this together – that’s one of the lessons of the Boston bombing.Roland Freudenstein Defence EU-US Extremism Foreign Policy Transatlantic
After Boston – Terrorism, Immigration and Integration
24 Apr 2013
On the 22nd of April 2013, the Centre for European Studies (CES) kicked off a new series of events entitled ‘Food for Thought’; the first event in the series, entitled ‘Leading from Behind: U.S. Foreign & Defence Policy Ten Years after Kagan’s Of Paradise and Power’ welcomed Kenneth Weinstein, CEO and President of Hudson Institute in order to discuss Obama’s foreign policy and its implications for the transatlantic relationship.
In his introductory remarks, CES Director Tomi Huhtanen emphasised the importance the Centre for European Studies, as the official think tank of the European People’s Party attaches to transatlantic relations. As part of the transatlantic research agenda, the Centre for European Studies regularly publishes studies and organises events with experts and senior officials from both sides of the Atlantic; one of the most important events of this kind is the Transatlantic Think Tank Conference, a conference which takes place every year in Brussels and Washington.
Dr Weinstein started his intervention by recalling that ten years ago, the launch of a second U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein exposed intra-NATO differences of temperament and philosophy in sharp relief. This stark divergence of perspective on both sides of the Atlantic then led political scientist Robert Kagan, in a famous essay and subsequent book titled ‘Of Paradise and Power’, to declare that Europe and the U.S. had come to inhabit two separate planets entirely. According to Kagan, the Americans were ‘from Mars’, emphasising force projection in international affairs, while Europeans were ‘from Venus’, favouring ‘laws, rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation.’
Ten years later and taking into consideration the different imprint left by President Obama on US foreign and defence policies, the metaphor seems to have inversed and the planets seem to have realigned, according to Dr Weinstein. In support of his argument, he cited the examples of Libya, Syria or Mali, where the Europeans had taken the (military) lead. In the meantime, looking at troop draw-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan or diplomatic engagement with Iran, Americans seem to have turned inward ‘with an almost Venusian vengeance.’ In an even more worrying development, Dr Weinstein pointed out that US’s unilateral acts vis-à-vis its European partners were frustrating the latter, leading to a decline of influence of the West as a whole in global affairs.
After this initial setting of the scene, the participants engaged in a lively comments and questions session, whose main conclusions were the following: the US and the EU need to continue to work together during these challenging times for the transatlantic Alliance, especially with the rise of new world powers such as China and others. While neither the Mars nor the Venus approaches are sufficient on their own, the two powers need to combine them in a manner that leads to improved outcomes, particularly when it comes to intervention, reconstruction and withdrawal strategies. In the case of Syria, for example, the ‘leading from behind’ doctrine should materialise into concrete actions that provide a model and set an example for future transatlantic burden sharing.
The fact that the Europeans are recently sometimes taking the leadership in their own neighbourhood is not per se a bad thing, and it can signal that they are ready to be a real partner in the transatlantic framework – although this has, in the past couple of years, pertained to France and Britain only, not to the entire European Union. However, American leaders need to communicate their changes of strategy better, so that the Europeans do not feel alienated. Last, but not least, Dr Weinstein concluded that both American political parties should communicate strategic doctrine principles better and more often to the American public, so that they build public support for US foreign policy.Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
President of Hudson Institute: ‘The US and the EU need to find common ways to engage globally’
23 Apr 2013
Marc-Michael Blum Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Security
Rethinking the bomb: Europe and nuclear weapons in the XXI century
10 Apr 2013
The Centre for European Studies is proud to participate in the 2013 edition of the Brussels Forum organised by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an event that will take place in Brussels during March 15-17, 2013.
The Brussels Forum is an annual high-level meeting of the most influential North American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both the EU and the US. Participants include heads of state, senior officials from the European Union institutions and the member states, U.S. Cabinet officials, Congressional representatives, Parliamentarians, academics, and media. The Brussels Forum has, since its first appearance in 2005, become the most important annual Brussels-based international conference on global politics, security and economics. The number of participants regularly exceeds 400 participants.
As part of this year’s event, the Centre for European Studies is organising a breakout dinner on Saturday, March 16 on the future of democracy support in the EU’s neighbourhood. In the East, the colour revolutions of the 2000s have given way to increasing authoritarian tendencies. Countries such as Ukraine and Georgia seem to turn away from the West. In the Middle East and North Africa, the enthusiasm of the initial Arab revolts of 2011 has fizzled out. While Syria is steeped in civil war, liberty seems to be threatened again in Egypt and Tunisia. Several economies are in free-fall. What can the EU do to better support democratic developments in its neighbourhood? Which new instruments and methods promise better results than what we could achieve in the last 8-10 years? Tomi Huhtanen, CES Director will deliver the welcoming remarks and Roland Freudenstein, CES Deputy Director and Head of Research will moderate the debate between high level experts and Forum participants.
The CES participation in the Brussels Forum adds to the importance that the Centre attaches to transatlantic issues. As part of the transatlantic research agenda, the Centre for European Studies regularly publishes studies and organises events with experts and senior officials from both sides of the Atlantic; one of the most important events of this kind is the Transatlantic Think Tank Conference, a conference which takes place every year in Brussels and Washington.
For more details concerning the 2013 Brussels Forum and to follow the livestreaming of the public sessions, please visit http://brussels.gmfus.org/.
[Picture source: Brussels Forum 2012 Flickr gallery]EU-US Neighbourhood Policy Security Transatlantic
CES proud Forum Partner of the 2013 Brussels Forum
15 Mar 2013
The question of what Europe’s nuclear strategy should be is rarely discussed. While Europe continues to play a crucial role on issues relating to non-proliferation, particularly in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme, nuclear strategy is generally considered to be within remit of Russia, the United States and NATO.
The paper identifies possible scenarios where the deployment of nuclear weapons may be justified. It also examines the use of tactical nuclear weapons, traditional means of arms control and the implications of a nuclear Iran. The author establishes a compelling case for the immediate development of a coherent European nuclear strategy. This strategy should take into account the role of nuclear weapons in maintaining peace and security in modern Europe.
While conceding that during periods of financial and political crisis dialogue may not be considered a priority, the author maintains that it is essential in order to limit the risk of proliferation or the use of nuclear weapons.Defence EU-US Foreign Policy Middle East Security
Rethinking the Bomb: Europe and Nuclear Weapons in the Twenty-First Century
06 Mar 2013
This paper presents the case for deepened trade and investment policy cooperation between the European Union and the United States. A trade deal between the two economic powers has become an increasingly popular notion, particularly given increased competition from China. Old arguments against a transatlantic deal have become weaker as the balance of the world’s economies has changed. Such an agreement would generate significant gains if designed properly and would encourage global trade liberalisation. It is time for the EU and US to press ahead with a free trade agreement. The EU and US also need to find a way outside of the WTO system to use their economic power as leverage in their dealings with emerging economies. An ambitious free trade agreement can, therefore, achieve more than the benefits of reducing barriers.Economy EU-US Trade
Transatlantic Free Trade: An Agenda for Jobs, Growth and Global Trade Leadership
01 May 2012
Europeans and Americans have a lot to learn from one another when it comes to higher education. The US offers a wider and more diversified range of choice in higher education, and more Americans than Europeans attend higher education institutions. Conversely, European universities are more intellectually oriented, and European students generally are better equipped to analyse and adapt to new situations. This paper analyses the strengths and weaknesses of both systems and assesses how each can benefit from the other.Education EU-US European Union Transatlantic
A Higher Education for the Twenty-first Century: European and US approaches
01 Mar 2012
This report will examine America’s and Europe’s positions in the world and their relationship with one another. What are the reasons for the widening of the divide? Are they rooted in current political or individual constellations, or are there larger structural causes—even paradigm shifts—that are slowly driving the partners apart? It will then discuss several areas of transatlantic cooperation and describe how the current divides over these issues can be bridged and a new framework established: a new transatlantic relationship for the multipolar age.EU-US Foreign Policy Transatlantic
Stopping the Drift: Recalibrating the Transatlantic Relationship for a Multipolar World
01 Oct 2010
Politicians and academics have warned against a surge of protectionist measures in light of the economic and financial crisis. Although the World Trade Organisation has extensive rules regarding tariffs, it offers few options for contesting protectionist subsidies and procurement conditions that favour domestic suppliers. This paper examines stimulus packages in both the US and EU, international rules governing protectionism and advocates a policy of greater market access.Economy EU-US European Union Trade
Good for the Economy – Bad for Trade: The Effects of EU and US Economic Stimulation International Trade and Competition
01 Jul 2009