Over the past decade, geopolitical tensions have increased significantly around the world. This is partly due to the rise and increased assertiveness of China on one hand, and the continuing revisionism and rogue actions of Russia on the other. Increasingly, this competition has been cast as one of the fundamentally different political systems. The democratic West and its Asian partners are competing for power and influence with autocratic Russia and China, which hold different values and a different vision of how the international system should be organised. Russia and China are seeking to export their political systems and corrupting influence through such instruments as the Nord Stream pipeline and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. What can Europe and the US do to boost the resilience of theirRoland Freudenstein Constanze Stelzenmüller Kenneth R. Weinstein Transatlantic Transatlantic relations
own political systems and those of their partners around the world? Should they form an alliance of democracies to help each other—and others—to withstand such autocratic and corrupting pressure?
What kind of geopolitical opportunities or limitations does conceiving of grand strategy as a division between democracies and autocracies create for Europe and the US?
TTTC: Democracy vs autocracy and the great-power showdown
Live-streams - Multimedia
20 Jul 2021
Roland Freudenstein Roberta Metsola China EU-Russia European Union Transatlantic Transatlantic relations
EIF 21 Panel 2 – Europe’s Role in the Great Power Competition
Live-streams - Multimedia
29 Jun 2021
Antonio López-Istúriz White Siegfried Mureşan Stormy Mildner Eoin Drea Trade Transatlantic Transatlantic relations
Putting Trade at the Heart of a Global Transatlantic Relationship
Live-streams - Multimedia
26 May 2021
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
Today’s episode could not focus on anything else than the presidential Inauguration and the starting point of the Biden-Harris term.Roland Freudenstein Transatlantic
The Week in 7 Questions with Max Bergmann
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
22 Jan 2021
The transatlantic relationship has been subjected to a significant stress test under the presidency of Donald Trump. Across Europe, the initial reaction to the election of Joe Biden was almost universally positive. Yet analysts tend to agree that there can be no return to the status quo ante. The world as we knew it under the Obama administration has changed in very fundamental ways, notably with the rise of an assertive China.
Moreover, the Trump presidency has exacerbated the sharp polarisation of political preferences within the US. Bipartisan foreign policy is a feature of the past. Europe cannot assume there will be policy continuity after the next presidential election in 2024. It is time to take stock of transatlantic values and interests—which are not always in harmony—and to attempt to forge a new type of partnership across the Atlantic, one more geared to the realities of an emerging multipolar world.
Europe should not abandon its attempts to develop a greater measure of autonomy from—or non-dependence on—the US. And the US should not see such yearnings as threatening. There will be many issues on which Europe and a Biden administration will work in harmony.
But there will also be policy areas where friction could well arise, most notably over trade, China, Russia and the future of NATO. It would be in the interests of neither the US nor the EU for the latter to revert to the type of followership that has characterised its relations with the US since the Cold War. Only by recognising the distinctiveness of US and European values and interests will it be possible for the two sides to move towards a more balanced partnership that will confer true strength on their relationship.Defence Foreign Policy Transatlantic
Europe and Biden: Towards a New Transatlantic Pact?
20 Jan 2021
The first episode of 2021 is out! Watch Christian Kremer respond to 7 questions on the Capitol Riots, transatlantic relations, Covid-19, economic recovery, the German presidency of the Council, and the EPP Congress in 2021.Roland Freudenstein COVID-19 European People's Party Transatlantic
The Week in 7 Questions with Christian Kremer
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
15 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
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
The EU takes the challenge of digital transformation very seriously. We have decided to make it, along with the Green Deal, the main driver for economic recovery and long-term growth.
The EU has a profound and well-established reputation as a standard-setter. It is moving rather quickly toward a modern legal framework for its Digital Single Market, establishing a regulatory space that would be conducive both to the growth of digital business and protective of the fundamental rights of users.
This is particularly important now when there seems to be no doubt that the world’s future is digital, that digital technology is of general-purpose, and that it cuts across business activities, people’s lives, and societal transformation. It does not recognise borders between national jurisdictions but also has a strong geopolitical dimension.
Although the EU has been already for a while moving forward with the implementation of its plan to create a regulatory framework for the digital transformation of its Single Market, and that a series of legislative proposals have been already issued, there is still time for the EU and the US to move toward a common regulatory space for the digital transformation.
Our relations’ history clearly demonstrates that aiming for the alignment of already existing and well-established standards to make them conducive to business activity, citizens’ preferences, and security has always been difficult and costly.
However, in the case of the digital transformation, we have a situation comparable to a greenfield investment. We are basically starting from scratch. Many choices are still to be made. Providing a shared regulatory framework for an emerging global common good can be a win-win move.
In a time when China, currently the only large economy experiencing growth, has been aiming for technological self-sufficiency and pouring enormous subsidies into high-tech, AI, electric vehicles, and the semiconductor industry, the EU is lagging behind in the global technological race, and the US is hardly benefitting from the trade and tech war. Choosing a cooperative approach for the digital transformation seems to be a good path for the EU and the US. When 5G will shape the near future of the digital economy, the EU and the US could be partners in creating a new vision for going beyond 5G.
COVID-related challenges open new areas for digital cooperation. Data sharing is crucial, also in the context of combatting the pandemic now and other potential global health hazards that will affect us in the future. European and American global resilience will be reinforced if we work together through digital sovereignty, which already seems to be a buzzword on both sides of the Atlantic.
Europe will spare no effort on the path toward making itself a centre of digital innovation. There is, indeed, no reason that we should lag behind. There is a market of 450 million people, there are great standard-setting capabilities, and there is knowledge and experience on how to ensure the integrity of digitalisation in terms of privacy protection and ethical dimensions. There are millions of small companies that, with some incentives, can spread their wings to capture the advantages of the digital transformation. The EU is all set to become an attractive strategic partner for the US in the digital world. Working together would allow us to reduce existing threats to the Open Internet. Europe knows how to tear down dividing walls, and it understands well the risk of raising digital walls and the benefits of a global mindset. It also knows the cost for the business community of operating in different regulatory regimes.
My concern is that, given the disparities in standards and protocols, the global race for digital leadership based on digital sovereignty might not produce a win-win situation for all. We have to resist the temptation to go alone in this area.
Choosing to work together as leaders on standards and behaviour in the digital world and putting the digital economy at the heart of transatlantic relations can bring benefits to citizens and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic and help find globally accepted solutions to existing inadequacies.
We have a chance that must not be missed. It is a perfect area for a transatlantic reset. Frustration with largely dysfunctional economic relations with the US for some years now leads us to sometimes thinking in terms of the need to balance against the US. But it matters today that our bonds have grown from shared values. In that regard, China is on the other bank of the river. If we feel left behind globally, we should aim at taking back control, like the Brexit dreamers, or use our huge regulatory power in the service of Western values.Danuta Maria Hübner Digital Regulation Transatlantic
Danuta Maria Hübner
A Transatlantic Agenda for Digital Transformation
13 Nov 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
The last two US presidents have not been keen to pursue trade liberalisation with long-time partners in Europe. The EU, in turn, has progressively developed an independent trade policy. Numerous irritants over the last decade have sapped any impetus to expend domestic political capital in major expansion of transatlantic free trade measures. On the US side, steel, aluminium, white goods and threatened auto tariffs, criticising the World Trade Organization (WTO), and a more aggressive policy toward China are among the sources of EU criticism. On the EU side, unwillingness to renegotiate long-standing asymmetries in tariff and investment restrictions, such as in agriculture, aggressive use of competition and tax policy targeted at US technology giants, flirtation with industrial policies, and tepid responses to Chinese mercantilism dampen any US enthusiasm for working together on larger issues like WTO reform or a transatlantic free trade agreement.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden has professed a preference to work more closely with allies, often citing the EU, on major trade issues. Yet he competes with Trump on means to punish China for its trade and human rights transgressions. His campaign also competes with Trump on how best to use industrial policy to achieve the reshoring and strengthening of US manufacturing. The experience of the 2020 pandemic has only reinforced these tendencies. Any change in trade policy in a Biden administration therefore is almost certainly to be of degree and not of fundamental direction.
The best hope for lowering tensions between transatlantic partners is through constructive cooperation on limited but important issues. Both sides have an interest in finalising plurilateral agreements within the WTO structure. Negotiations have languished for years on trade in services, including digital services, even though there has been some progress and differences are not fundamental. The IMF and World Bank have long argued that progress on services liberalisation is among the best ways to reinvigorate the WTO and give impetus to much-needed modernisation of that institution. Transatlantic negotiators are being pushed by their business communities to solve the problems with transnational data flows occasioned by the EU’s privacy laws, especially the increasingly important flow of business data which is driven by the growth of the Internet of Things.
Both sides have also shown strong interest in preventing China from dominating international standards making for existing technologies like telecommunications or robotics and for emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles and quantum computing. Transatlantic partners have also shown interest in finding alternatives to Chinese dominance of supply chains for key raw materials that are important for defence applications, semiconductors, environmental goods, lightweight metals, and lithium ion batteries. Finally, there have been encouraging signs of transatlantic cooperation, in both the private and public sectors, for ensuring supplies of pharmaceuticals and other vital medical equipment whose shortages and dependence on unreliable suppliers have become more visible because of the pandemic.
In recent months some encouraging signs have emerged that views in the US and EU may be converging. A recent Business Europe report on “How to Build a Positive Agenda” for transatlantic trade has numerous ideas to meet the economic and political needs for better cooperation. And the EU decision in October to try negotiating a solution to the Airbus-Boeing dispute at a minimum prevents a downward spiral of increasing tariffs. It is worth noting that even Trump has backed away from the threats to impose auto tariffs, and USTR Lighthizer has signalled openness to a negotiated settlement on the Airbus case, while limiting tariffs at a level below that authorised by the WTO in that case.
There has also been some convergence on the benefits of concerted action on China, with major European nations, for example, taking a more guarded approach to Chinese participation in the important 5G infrastructure market. Finally, many in the US have recognised that, because China is largely pursuing a policy of decoupling and autarky in its growing economic sphere, those nations committed to a more open, market driven economic systems will need to work more closely together. The reality of achieving the economic scale needed to compete with a more closed but huge Chinese sphere supports this approach. And in the US, the political reality of Chinese resistance to unilateral US efforts to convince the Middle Kingdom to be a more “responsible stakeholder” in the WTO and other Bretton Woods institutions supports the need for a more collaborative approach with allies.
It will take many months for the US to get past the animosities of the 2020 election cycle, and a focus on trade policy is not likely until the administration (whichever party is in power) has addressed other issues, especially those involved with the pandemic and recovery from its economic consequences. Yet it would be wise for trade policy leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to take small steps as outlined above to rebuild the confidence needed to tackle the larger issues facing the world trading system.Thomas J. Duesterberg Trade Transatlantic
Thomas J. Duesterberg
Rebuilding US-EU Confidence for Joint Work on Trade Relations
02 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
1. Which role, if any, does foreign policy play in this election?
Dr. Jana Puglierin, Head of Office and Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin: Foreign policy has rarely played a dominant role in American election campaigns, but this time, the topic really has taken a back seat. Due to the conjunction of the COVID-19 pandemic, a huge economic recession, and social tensions in the United States, attention has turned strongly inward in recent months. Relations with China are an exception, however. During the election campaign, both candidates outbid each other on who would take the hardest line against Beijing. Donald Trump has used foreign policy issues during the campaign to show that he is the one who puts “America first” and protects Americans from being ripped off by others. Decisions such as the withdrawal of American troops from Germany were intended to demonstrate that he would no longer stand by and watch America’s wealthy allies freeride.
Erik Brattberg, Director of the Europe Program and Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C.: US presidential elections tend to be dominated by domestic issues, and this year’s election is no exception to this rule. The top issues for American voters in November are the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare, and the Supreme Court. To the extent that foreign policy has surfaced in the debate, it is mainly about China, where Trump is touting his own administration’s tough approach, while Biden is criticising Trump’s policy as self-defeating. While most Americans, according to polls, remain interested in the US continuing to play a leading role in the world, Trump’s nationalist agenda is not an aberration, and signals a more fundamental shift in the thinking of Americans about their role in the world.
Dr. Ian O. Lesser, Vice President and Executive Director, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Brussels: Traditionally, foreign policy has not played a large role in American presidential elections. This election is unlikely to very different. Domestic issues will be the focus. But above all, the election will be a referendum on Trump and his personality. That said, there are several domestic issues with important external implications. These include economic openness versus economic nationalism, immigration and borders, climate change, and questions of election interference. China and Russia are on the agenda, principally via domestic concerns. Biden will try to highlight the international costs of Trump’s behaviour and policies, of course.
Peter Rough, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C.: It has almost become a banality to observe that the world is interdependent, but that does not make it any less true. Globalisation has eviscerated the division between foreign and domestic issues, just as it has erased former US Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s adage, uttered during the Truman administration, that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” The two candidates represent starkly different international profiles, from specific issues like climate change, to regional approaches in the Middle East. Trump is hesitant to involve the US in foreign wars, but he and his party are comfortable in the realm of hard power. By contrast, Biden sits atop a progressive base that has grown hostile to the use of force, but prioritises American leadership in multilateral fora.
2. What would a Trump/Biden victory mean for the EU?
Jana Puglierin: A Trump victory would be a crucial challenge for the EU. Even in his first term, Trump was openly hostile to Brussels. He would try to increase bilateral relations with member states, thereby dividing the EU. While France would strive even harder for European strategic autonomy, the countries on NATO’s eastern flank would try to expand their strategic ties with the US. This would be especially true if Trump conditioned the US security guarantee on economic or political concessions. A Biden victory would give ample room for proactive European initiatives that renew the transatlantic relationship and make Europe a stronger – and, therefore, more attractive – partner for the US. Biden would restore confidence in American security guarantees for Europe, although he would pressure Europeans to invest more in their own defence.
Erik Brattberg: On one level, Trump and Biden couldn’t be more different when it comes to how they view the role of US allies and partners, including the EU. Whereas Trump views the EU as essentially an economic competitor, Biden views Europe as a key partner for the United States. Biden would withdraw Trump’s support for Brexit and populist leaders in Europe, seek to reduce trade tensions, and cooperate more with Europe on issues such as China. However, transatlantic relations are unlikely to bounce back to their pre-2016 level – European distrust in US leadership will remain high and divisive transatlantic issues, such as defence spending and burden-sharing, or digital taxation, will remain complicated, even under Biden.
Ian O. Lesser: It would mean a great deal. I do not agree with those who suggest that the outcome will not change the drift of transatlantic relations. To be sure, there are structural shifts, including the inexorable rise of China as a strategic concern. And Biden could prove less than open on trade matters. But on climate, Iran, NATO affairs, and the general approach to the transatlantic partnership, there would be a big change. The style would change overnight, and that will make a difference. The cadre of foreign policy officials coming into a Biden administration would certainly be a return to the “known world” for EU leaders. Above all, the EU, as an institution, would be taken more seriously in Washington.
Peter Rough: By now, the world has grown accustomed to Donald Trump. In the event he wins re-election, we could expect his approach towards Europe to mirror that of his first term: rebalancing trade and defence. Moreover, he and his team will work to forge a common strategic approach towards the major state-based challenges of the day, from Venezuela in South America, to Iran in the Middle East, and to China worldwide. In all areas, Brussels would face a series of choices, sometimes painful, on how to proceed.
If Joe Biden takes the White House, he will launch a charm offensive towards Europe, including a summit of the world’s democracies in the first year. There will be obvious areas of overlap in regulating our economies, for example, and how to approach Iran—even if our distinct political traditions, geographies, and responsibilities will ensure our share of differences. No matter who wins the White House, however, Europe must recognise that the costs of defending the liberal international order have gone up.
3. What should be the number one item on the transatlantic agenda after the elections?
Jana Puglierin: No matter who wins the presidential election, there is plenty of room for transatlantic cooperation and joint initiatives when it comes to dealing with China. In terms of substance, the EU and its member states share most of the United States’ concerns, such as its trade policy – especially subsidies and forced technology transfers – and its military build-up and destabilising policies in Asia, as well as the further promotion of its authoritarian model in the rest of the world. Europeans should pro-actively approach the Americans with proposals, and not wait until they are confronted with American demands. However, they should make clear that they are not extended instruments of US external policy.
Erik Brattberg: It is not enough to simply aim to restore the traditional transatlantic agenda. Instead, the goal must be to reinvent US-European cooperation to deal with the most pressing future challenges. Key among these are China and the role of technology. In this regard, the establishment of a new EU-US strategic dialogue for cooperation on shared challenges related to China is a welcome development and should be put to good use next year. In addition, EU and US policymakers also need to redouble their effort to forge a more common approach towards emerging technologies – both through establishing a bilateral technological EU-US high-level dialogue, but also through engaging together in new initiatives, such as the British idea of establishing a D-10 format to work on 5G and global supply chain issues.
Ian O. Lesser: A return to trust should be item number one. A stylistic priority, perhaps. But it’s an essential pre-condition for a return to closer cooperation in multiple areas – and the management of differences where they will surely continue to exist.
Peter Rough: The number one issue is China. The US and Europe have a host of issues to sort through, but all of them should be refracted through the ongoing competition with China and its partners, especially Russia and Iran.Democracy Elections Transatlantic
Trump, Biden, and the Future of Transatlantic Relations: The Impact of the 2020 US Presidential Election
12 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
Today with Bruno Lété to discuss EU politics with Roland Freudenstein. Watch his points on matters such as online events, the post-COVID19 era in Belgium, Transatlantic Relations, or Merkel and Putin.Bruno Lété Roland Freudenstein COVID-19 EU-Russia Transatlantic
The Week in 7 Questions with Bruno Lété
Multimedia - The Week in 7 Questions
12 Jun 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
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are an indispensable part of civil society. However, NGO influence on policymaking is not always positive. A large number of well-connected NGOs explicitly aim to influence trade and investment policymaking. Some of the most influential NGOs that have campaigned against vital EU trade and investment policy objectives have received substantial funding from the European Commission and national governments.
This study calls on EU policymakers to ensure that NGOs financed by the EU do not fundamentally contradict the EU’s basic principles. Among other things, the study calls for a comprehensive reform of the EU’s Transparency Register and Financial Transparency System. This should include the introduction of a single, centralised system for recording and managing NGO grant funding.European People's Party European Union Society Trade Transatlantic
NGO Lobbying on Trade and Investment: Accountability and Transparency at the EU Level
08 Nov 2019
Ukraine has been making the front page of newspapers all over the world for a couple of weeks now, due to an incriminating phone call between Donald Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky on 25th July. This conversation, the transcript of which was released on 25th September, led to the launch of an impeachment inquiry of President Trump and to the resignation of the US Special Envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker. But what have been the consequences for the Ukrainian President? To quote the character of Anatoly Dyatlov from the famous TV series Chernobyl, “not great, not terrible”.
Zelensky has scored an unprecedented victory in the history of Ukraine, being elected President with 73,2%. A popular comedian, with no experience in politics, he has been chosen to lead the country instead of Petro Poroshenko. Zelensky campaigned on memes and irony, promising to free Ukraine from corruption and transform it into a thriving democracy.
However, his gains did not end there. One day after his inauguration as President of Ukraine, Zelensky dissolved the Verkhovna Rada calling for parliamentary snap elections on 21st July. Despite the fact that there was no policy content in most messages during Zelensky’s presidential campaign, Ukrainians rewarded him once again, by giving his party, Servant of the People, an absolute majority in the Parliament – 254 out of 450 seats.
Zelensky is in the most favourable position to turn the country around, controlling all levels of power and having massive support from his electorate. He already delivered on some of his promises made during the campaign, by signing a bill creating the procedure to impeach a president and simplifying the firing of government officials as part of his fight against corruption.
President Zelensky is determined also to lift a longstanding ban on the sale of farmland and start a process of privatization of state-owned enterprises to boost investments and move on with the economic reforms that the country really needs.
And of course one of his biggest accomplishments in his few months of holding the presidency has been the prisoner swap between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, trading 35 prisoners each. Zelensky is undoubtedly more open towards dialogue with Putin than his predecessor and wants to show progress on the conflict resolution in Donbas. Even though the Minsk II Agreement is still far from being implemented the prisoner exchange gave hope to Ukrainians that there might be an end to this war.
However, Zelensky’s presidency is not all fun and games. His reputation is overshadowed by his close relationship with the oligarch Kolomoisky, owner of the 1+1 Channel, where Zelensky’s show was aired, and his alleged sponsor in the elections. Also troubling, the reconfirmation of Arsen Avakov as Interior Minister, an obstructionist to legal reforms who is tainted by numerous corruption allegations that he denies.
The real trouble on the international scene though, began for Zelensky only on September 25, when the White House released a memorandum of a phone conversation between President Trump and Zelensky himself, in late July. Apparently, shortly before this call, Trump had ordered $391.5 million in military aid to Ukraine to be frozen, to then pressure Zelensky to look into the case of Joe Biden’s son in relation to his position on the Board of the oil and gas company Burisma.
The speaker for the US House of Representatives launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump immediately after the release of the memorandum and the first head to fly was that of Kurt Volker. He was appointed as a special envoy on Ukraine in July 2017 and was involved in negotiations over the conflict in Donbas.
Volker has facilitated a meeting between Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Zelensky’s advisor Andriy Yermak, which made him look involved in the scandal. However, Ukraine considers Volker’s resignation a big loss as he was highly regarded in the country and seemed to be the “voice of reason” in the U.S. -Ukraine relations.
This situation, however, did not have a terrible impact on the Ukrainian President. For sure he will have some explaining to do to France and Germany, after openly criticising Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel in the incriminating phone call. Zelensky complained about the lack of support to Ukraine from the EU while praising all the United States is doing for his country. However, in the age of unaccountability for what one says, and considering his lack of political experience, he will most likely be quickly forgiven.
With regards to Ukrainian population, if Volodymyr Zelensky brings peace to Donbas, creates better economic conditions for the country and takes even some tiny steps in eradicating corruption, they will not withdraw their support for the new President. According to the Rating Group poll, 71% of Ukrainians are satisfied with Zelensky’s work.
Recent developments in the conflict resolution will gain him even more support among people who feel the war fatigue. On October 1st, Zelensky agreed to the “Steinmeier Formula”, allowing local elections in the Eastern regions of Ukraine under the control of the separatist supported by Russia. One has to agree that with this decision he got back into EU’s good graces quite quickly paving also the way for the Normandy Four meeting.
Even with some missteps along the way, for now, Zelensky is still being given the benefit of the doubt by both the international community and his electorate and at least for the time being his support in the country is likely to stay at 70%.Anna Nalyvayko Eastern Europe Elections Leadership Transatlantic
Not great, not terrible –the repercussions of Ukrainegate
08 Oct 2019
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
The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy was launched in 1998 as a quest for ‘autonomy’. The EU sought the capacity to stabilise its volatile neighbourhood without undue reliance on the US. Almost two decades of efforts have failed to deliver on that objective. But as EU leaders, post-Brexit, re-launch the Common Security and Defence Policy, as the 2016 European Global Strategy rediscovers the virtues of ‘strategic autonomy’, and as the world juggles with a US president who appears to question the very bases of the Atlantic Alliance, it is time to radically re-think the relations between the EU and NATO.
This paper argues that, in the longer term, it is through strengthening the EU–NATO relationship, rather than by focusing on defence initiatives undertaken by the Union alone, that EU strategic autonomy will become possible. This will, at the same time, consolidate rather than weaken the transatlantic bond.Brexit Defence Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
Strategic Autonomy: Why It’s Not About Europe Going it Alone
08 Aug 2019
As NATO marked its 70th anniversary last week, what better time to reflect on its achievements? Those who are critical of the alliance and what it has accomplished, need only be reminded of the reality in which we live: that there has been no armed conflict between major powers since its creation and zero armed conflict among its members.
Prior to its creation, the world was devastated by not one world war, but two, in the span of only 20 years. In fact, NATO is fulfilling its mandate at this very moment, shielding 512 million citizens living in the EU by maintaining a deterring presence in eastern Europe, staring down Russian armed forces amassed along the EU’s external borders, our borders.
Likewise, the same logic that the EU is fulfilling its own mandate should be applied to counter the argument of every Eurosceptic. By acting as a string, linking Europeans together, it too has succeeded in preventing any armed conflict within its borders since its inception. The world needs these great constructs, more than ever, as it and the balance of power becomes increasingly unstable and fraught with dangers.
Among them, as already mentioned, a resurging Russia is escalating tensions at almost every opportunity, by means both conventional and radical, utilising old tricks and new. From increasing its presence along European borders, engaging in proxy standoffs like Syria and now Venezuela, to routinely perpetrating acts of espionage in the US, the UK and Continental Europe, Russia has shown it intends to remain a key challenger of the West.
But these are all from the Kremlin’s old playbook. Turning a page to the Kremlin’s playbook 2.0, we see a Russia that is actively involved in new means of disruption and confrontation, many of which the West is struggling to address.
To name just a few, these include multifaceted disinformation campaigns in central and eastern Europe, interference in foreign elections (a major concern for the upcoming European Parliament elections), using its energy supplies to coerce its dependents – a trap that the EU should seek to avoid at all costs – and removing itself from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty while instigating a new arms race.
On the latter point, both Russia and the US have renounced their participation in the INF Treaty, with Russia proclaiming its alleged progress in developing new weapons, such as low-flying hypersonic ICBMs (like the Russian R-28 Sarmat, nicknamed ‘Satan-2’) that significantly alter existing theories and strategies relating to nuclear weapons, including deterrence. In response, the US has already proclaimed its plans to test similar ICBMs in a few months’ time.
To compound these concerns, perhaps the most significant threat to stability and world peace does not involve Russia at all, but rather an emerging China eager to assume its place on the world stage as the hegemon. In addition to relying on conventional means to assert its dominance, it too is actively engaged in new and innovative techniques to gain leverage over its Western rivals, escalating tensions at a worrying rate.
In particular, China’s present modus operandi includes cyber warfare, foreign interference and espionage (exacerbating fears of possible malicious intent by telecommunications giant Huawei), flexing its muscles in the Pacific and jeopardising regional peace and shipping routes, infrastructure investment schemes and charm offences to sway favour towards the East rather than the West, and developing new military technology far superior to Western capabilities.
With both the US and Russia leaving the INF Treaty, which China was never a part of, and all three heavyweights vying for position, deterrence by other, tried and trusted means becomes crucial. That is why the West needs NATO and why it remains the greatest alliance the world has ever known. When soft power fails, hard power or the threat thereof must be present to fill that void.
Donald Trump, for all his follies, is not off the mark when he claims that NATO’s members need to step up their defence spending, a point reiterated by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on his trip to Washington last week. NATO members appears to be listening, with a noticeable increase in spending (by Canada and European members) by 4 percent from 2017 to 2018, and Stoltenberg predicting those same allies will increase spending upwards to $100 billion USD by the end of 2020.
That is why the West needs NATO and why it remains the greatest alliance the world has ever known. When soft power fails, hard power or the threat thereof must be present to fill that void.
On NATO expansion, most notably North Macedonia looking set to join the ranks of NATO’s 29 members, and further accession possibly on the horizon, the alliance is sending a clear message that it is here to stay and remains a force to be reckoned with. But is this enough?
Indeed, the European Union must continue to up its game and walk the walk when it comes to security burden sharing. Not because Donald Trump says so, but because it’s high time that it improves its preparedness and autonomy and becomes the superpower the world needs it to be. The EU has the means to do so and the political will is (slowly) gaining traction. Continuing this trend would not only improve autonomy but it would also reinforce NATO and, by extension, enhance deterrence and tip the balance of power in the West’s favour.
After all, NATO was founded on burden sharing, enshrined in its charter under Article 5. What use is NATO to our allies if we are incapable of coming to their rescue, just as we expect them to come to ours?
The threats posed to NATO’s members are becoming very real in an increasingly unstable world. That is why fortifying the alliance is paramount, at a time when the strength and appetite of our adversaries is growing. The world barely survived two world wars and, thanks to NATO, it has survived another seventy years. Would it survive a third? Given the level of assured destruction it would certainly endure, I’m not so sure.
As Albert Einstein once said on the matter: “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Will we avoid his prophetic warning of total destruction? Perhaps, but neglecting NATO is a sure way to put his theory to the test.Gavin Synnott Defence Leadership Security Transatlantic
NATO at seventy – why it remains the greatest alliance the world has ever known
09 Apr 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
Alarm bells are ringing in the juste milieu of Europe’s capital: Steve Bannon, the man who allegedly made Donald Trump President, is coming to town to shake up our already fragile political landscape, install an Alt-Right foundation and so help create a pan-European national populist movement, with a united ‘supergroup’ of up to 200 MEPs in the next European Parliament.
My advice is to stay calm, take a closer look at Bannon’s record and then assess the chances of such a formation ever to emerge. That is because Bannon is not ten feet tall intellectually, because he has a weak understanding of European politics and above all, because there are a couple of important obstacles to a unified pan-European right-wing movement.
Bannon is only Bannon
Of course, Bannon’s track record looks impressive: After all, he is the man who made Breitbart the social media flagship of the Alt-Right, who turned around the faltering Trump campaign in August 2016 and became chief strategist in the White House. But this is also the Steve Bannon who was spectacularly fired by the President for crossing the presidential family, and after mobilising Breitbart against the White House, was also fired from Breitbart.
This is the Steve Bannon who went on a European roadshow, but mostly disappointed his potential fans. And, most importantly, this is the Steve Bannon who is intellectually consistently overrated. Watching his arguably most important docu-propaganda film ‘Generation Zero’ of 2010, my first impression is that it is less scary than confused and bordering on the absurd.
Bannon doesn’t get Europe
The botched attempt to install a continental version of Breitbart, masterminded in late 2016/early2017 by Steve Bannon himself, is a good example. Breitbart London is thriving (albeit without Bannon) whereas in Germany and France, it never managed to gain a foothold. Neither were US Alt-Right bloggers and trolls able to have any significant impact on the French presidential election, despite high-flying plans and announcements.
Besides the profoundly different cultural context between Europe and America, the most important obstacle is just that most European nationalists are also viscerally anti-American. Even the fact that Trump is, in absolute terms, arguably the most un-American of Presidents doesn’t change this. In his mannerisms, he still represents the ‘ugly American’ Europeans love to hate.
And look at the way Bannon talks about money in the Brexit referendum: “When they told me the spending cap was £7 million, I go, ‘You mean £70 million? What the fuck?!’ £7 million doesn’t … buy you Facebook data, it doesn’t buy you ads, it doesn’t do anything….Dude! You just took the fifth largest economy in the world out of the EU for £7 million!”
Money just doesn’t play the same role in European politics as in the US, and thinking that it does simply means profoundly misunderstanding Europe. The fact that Marine Le Pen asked Bannon to speak to her Rassemblement National, doesn’t mean that someone like Bannon can seriously charm the rank-and file European right winger.
There is no such thing as nationalist internationalism
Bannon compares his initiative to George Soros whose Open Society Foundation has supported liberal causes across Europe for more than two decades. That’s a daring comparison, not only because of the different intellectual qualities of the two gentlemen, but most of all because Soros’ open-border liberal activists will always form a much more coherent group of people than any bunch of spin doctors, bloggers and other digital natives whose point of reference is the nation state.
Translated into European party politics (and this is where Bannon is ultimately aiming), this means that a unified pan-European movement, let alone a nationalist group in the European Parliament, is so much harder to create than more centrist or leftist organisations.
Does anyone remember Declan Ganley, the English Irishman who ‘won’ the first Irish referendum in 2007 against the Lisbon Treaty, and whose pan-European Libertas Party became the bane of Brussels ‘elite’ cocktail parties before the 2009 European election? Ganley didn’t manage to get a single MEP elected and is utterly forgotten today.
Make no mistake, of course the national populists are strong in the European Parliament, and bound to get stronger in 2019. But they are today split into 4 groups: The Tory-led European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) with an uncertain future after Brexit; The Europeans for Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) – essentially 5 Stars and Farage, therefore also unsustainable; the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) with Wilders, Salvini, Le Pen; and a ragtag bunch of ‘untouchables’, often extremists.
They have achieved practically nothing in the past term, except nuisance, several financial scandals and making alliances between the others more difficult. It’s true that, for example, Hungarian and Polish illiberals generally get along beautifully – of course, except for the Russia question and mainly because they are not direct neighbours.
Imagine Hungarian and Romanian nationalists, or German and Polish ones in one group. It would not be operational for long. Then consider how on economic philosophies and financial solidarity, northern and southern nationalists are literally at opposite ends of the spectrum in Europe.
Even on migration: they may agree on keeping migrants out but the last weeks have shown how populists and conservatives in Rome, Vienna, Munich and Berlin completely disagree on what to do about those migrants that are already ‘in the system’- and there will always be some!
The only thing national populists in Europe can really agree on is weak European institutions and strong external borders. That is, plainly, insufficient to make a truly political force out of the pan-European populist movement that Bannon, or Viktor Orbán, for that matter, have been talking about.
To summarise, Bannon is less brilliant than he’s made out to be, therefore he is unable to grasp Europe’s complexities, and he also underestimates the difficulties in forming one coherent right-wing movement, let alone party. That doesn’t mean that with some financing, which he has apparently secured, he can’t do harm through tweets and memes.
But the great Bannon shakeup of Europe is unlikely to happen. Of course, I may be completely mistaken. And of course, in any event, we should calmly make the case for Europe (which is what we’re doing at the Martens Centre, day in day out). But somehow, I fail to be nervous about Bannon in Brussels.
Photo source: ReutersRoland Freudenstein Elections Euroscepticism Political Parties Populism Transatlantic
Steve Bannon is coming to Brussels; don’t hold your breath!
24 Jul 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
President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change, albeit predictable, presents both challenges and opportunities for the global system of multilevel governance. Various stakeholders are ready to fill the void, including other world leaders, such as the EU, and in particular Germany; US state actors, such as California; and even cities and businesses. Whatever the outcome, the reaffirmed joint commitment to implementing the climate targets is good news for the planet.
Read the full article in the December 2017 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Eva Palacková Environment Globalisation Leadership Sustainability Transatlantic
The race for climate leadership in the era of Trump and multilevel governance
02 Nov 2017
I guess it’s clear now that Trump and Putin will indeed get along, much as I had predicted immediately after the U.S. Presidential election last November. The personal meeting between the two strongmen had played a groundbreaking role here, as was discussed at the Martens Centre panel on transatlantic relations at the EPP Congress in Malta in March.
Beyond any doubt, Vladimir Putin is the net winner so far, because he hasn’t had to make any concessions during the meeting. However, Donald Trump indeed made some. First, he kept key realist professionals out of the room (H.R. McMaster, Fiona Hill), and he was joined only by Rex Tillerson, perhaps the most comfortable figure for Putin out of all current U.S. foreign policy decision-makers.
Second, whatever the talk was about Putin’s cyber-intrusion into U.S. affairs (parties issue contradictory statements), one thing is clear: the issue hasn’t really gone anywhere and parties quickly moved on to other issues of the day.
Third, Trump didn’t want to hold Putin accountable on his past behaviour – aggression against neighbours, interference in affairs of Western democracies, attacks on the liberal world order, crackdowns on human rights in Russia. Instead, “there was not a lot of litigating the past”, as Rex Tillerson told the media.
Let’s be clear: there’s only one beneficiary of this sort of “move on” attitude – Putin. He wants to default on his past sins and be accepted as a normal guy by Western leaders again. Trump made a huge step in that direction in Hamburg.
But more importantly is the question – what comes next? Technically, I’m convinced that they agreed to hold a fully-fledged bilateral summit at some time soon, but just don’t want to announce it now, to allow flexibility. On the substantial part – few things.
First: much will depend on whether the professionals (H.R. McMaster, Fiona Hill, Kurt Volker) will return to have a say in crafting out future U.S. policy on Russia, or whether everything will continue in a napkin-drawn impromptu mode. The latter is a dangerous option: Putin is tricky and has great skill in selling his side of the story to unprepared and inexperienced people. Many reasonable people whom I know often left Putin’s office with his worldview.
Second: without doubt, Putin now sees Trump not as much as a tool for lifting sanctions against Russia (he sees the difficulties with that, bearing in mind what happens now on the Hill), but rather as a tool to sow further confusion and distrust in Transatlantic relations.
Putin is happy to hear Trump’s bashing of U.S. NATO allies for not spending enough on defence, as well as his other public attacks on the leaders of major Western democracies. It’s obvious that both leaders don’t like Angela Merkel very much, I’m sure part of their dialogue either was, or will be, focused on how to bypass her in important decision-making on major global affairs.
This leads us to the major third point. In the grave current geopolitical crises – Syria, the Korean Peninsula, and the Saudi-Iranian standoff – a United Europe, the key remaining pillar of Western democracy, is often dangerously absent. Trump is working to solve most of these crises together with a bunch of autocratic leaders – and Putin perfectly fits into that profile.
Why treat him so much differently? Technically, there’s still a lot more freedom in Russia than in China or Saudi Arabia (and Turkey is rapidly moving towards the same direction). So, we’re back into some sort of replica of the XIX century reality now – it looks like major international issues are set to be resolved through a number of “deals” between Trump and some autocrats.
Europe, as the major hope and leading force of the free democratic world at a time when the United States has taken (temporary?) leave from that role, should step up and increase its role in important affairs of the world, if we do not want to rely on the unpredictability of Trump. For President Trump, shaping the new world order through a series of deals with autocratic strongmen seems to be a temptation that’s too hard to resist.
He likes doing deals that way – we saw that in Riyadh, and now in Hamburg. But that’s a dangerous road for the future of the democratic world order, and the only way to defend it right now is if Europe amplifies its voice in global affairs. If not, we’ll be rapidly sliding into the XIX century politics, a glimpse of which we saw in Hamburg during the meeting between Putin and Trump.Vladimir Milov EU-Russia Foreign Policy Transatlantic
The Trump-Putin deal gets real
13 Jul 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 June 7th the European Commission will put forward its proposals to enhance European military cooperation, framed as ‘The Future of the European Defence’. These proposals are very timely and necessary and will hopefully be embraced by all EU Member states. However, it is important that we don’t fall into a trap when we speak about European defence, because what is possible in the future is vastly different to the realities of European defence today.
The conclusion reached in various EU member states is that under US President Donald Trump, we can no longer rely on NATO as much as we did before, especially considering the increased aggressiveness of Putin-led Russia. Therefore, as a backup plan, we will need to boost European defence cooperation and increase our independent military capabilities. It is possible for this to happen within the NATO framework rather than contradicting or overlapping with it.
The logic is solid, but there is a danger in underestimating the urgency of the situation. The security that NATO provides cannot be replaced by any European defence cooperation in the near future. The fact is that, since 1990, European real military capabilities have decreased dramatically.
In many countries, real operation units have fallen to one third of what they were at their peak in the 90s, and even then they were operationally dependent on US support. When we examine the figures, we can see that they paint a stark picture for the EU’s military capabilities without the help of the US.
Within the NATO framework, the US spends 3 times more on its military than the combined total of the EU member states. And this ratio has not been not improving: from 2007 to 2015, the US increased their defence spending by an average of 3.1%, whilst the EU28 decreased their military spending by an average of 14.5%.
Figure 1: Changes in Western European Combat Battalions (1990-2015)
Source: IISS, The Military Balance 2016
The combat battalion figures of EU member states are also in sharp decline. Germany, for example, has decreased its total battalion count of 215 battalions in 1990 to just 34 in 2015. In key military equipment, the EU28 have collectively decreased their total stock of battle tanks by 70%, helicopters by 38%, and patrol and combat boats by 54%.
Across the board, there is one trend we can see in relation to EU defence spending and that trend is decline. Europeans still cannot and could not confront a large-scale military intervention from Russia effectively without the help of the United States.
Crucially, major military upgrades take years if not decades to complete. A good example is Russia, which started a major reform of its military after the war in Georgia in 2008, when they realised that they had a large, but ineffective army.
The reforms came with unquestionable political and financial support from Putin, who even cut domestic budgets such as social welfare and healthcare in order to pay for this military reform (a move which would be extremely unpopular in Western European states). However, even though Russia has invested massively in its military since 2008, Russia’s military reform is still far from complete.
When we talk about the future of the common European Defence without the US, we need to realise that we as Europeans have for decades been totally reliant on the support of the Unites States. The argument for a strong European defence also assumes that European military spending would be greatly increased and that enhanced military cooperation would turn to some form of integration.
It is also necessary to point out that if Europe is to build a military force which is capable of facing a worst-case scenario, then we need to speak about European nuclear weapon capabilities.
The Commission’s proposals for enhanced military cooperation are very welcome, we need more initiatives like them, and we need to embrace them. Investing in the future of European military cooperation is the only solution to independently maintain the integrity of the EU in the long term. However, in the short term, this goal is not possible without the support of the United States.
We can be disappointed by what President Trump did or did not say during his last European visit, but we should not neglect or fail to give credit to the fact that operationally the US continues to invest in Europe as it did before.
Just look for example at the US troops in the Baltics or the US bilateral defence cooperation agreement with Estonia. When we evaluate our investment in our transatlantic relationship with the United States, we need to take into account that so far nothing has changed in US-EU defence cooperation.
Whilst taking steps to enhancing European military cooperation and common capabilities, the EU member states need to continue the modernisation of their military and increase their independent capabilities. To achieve a genuine European Defence Union, this Union needs to be built on the modern and fully operative units of the EU Member states.Tomi Huhtanen Defence EU Member States EU-Russia Security Transatlantic
European defence can only be achieved by closing the capabilities gap
06 Jun 2017
Donald Trump’s election to President of the US in November 2016 might well become one of the most momentous events in the relationship between Europe and North America since the end of the Cold War.
Although this relationship has already gone through substantial changes in the last 25 years, the current challenges seem more formidable than many of the past crises.
External threats to Europe and, to a lesser extent, America are intensifying. Rather than unifying the West, these challenges have provoked internal divisions within the transatlantic community that are greater than ever before.Defence EU-Russia Security Transatlantic
A New Transatlantic Agenda: Challenges and Opportunities in the Trump Era
24 May 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
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
‘Since the start of my academic career, I have never had a student critical of international trade. Only until recently has this positive opinion changed,’ stated Anu Bradford, Professor of Law and International Organization at Columbia University. The prolonged economic stagnation, she claimed, has played a role in changing attitudes, along with a failure of elites to recognise citizens’ legitimate concerns and promote an inclusive globalisation.
As a panellist of the event ‘Does global trade have a future?’ hosted by the Martens Centre on 11 January 2017, Prof. Bradford gave her opinion on the current state of play in international trade and the potential ways forward. The Executive Director of the Wilfried Martens Centre, Tomi Huhtanen, invited panellists to reflect on how the current backslide against international trade agreements could be stopped.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) formed an important part of the discussion. Up to this date, no agreement has been reached and the deadline for its conclusion has passed. Christofer Fjellner MEP (EPP, Sweden), however, expressed some hope that it could be finalised at some point in the future, when the new US administration may be open for business again – provided that Europe will solve its internal difficulties.
At the moment, European leaders should not focus on blaming the new president Donald Trump for the failure of TTIP but show their own willingness to continue negotiations.
André Sapir, Senior Fellow at Bruegel and Professor at Université Libre de Bruxelles, stated that the economic case for trade and trade liberalisation remains strong and holds the promises of improving allocation of resources globally and nationally.
It is important, however, to distinguish between trade agreements for which the EU has exclusive competence and mixed agreements that are broader and involve national regulatory issues such as consumer and environmental protection. Citizens should have been more engaged in the process of negotiating TTIP, an agreement of the second type.
In order for EU trade policy to have a future, Prof. Sapir and Prof. Bradford emphasised the need for more transparency and an unambiguous commitment from the EU towards its trading partners. The recent difficulties with the ratification of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) sent a negative signal and it will be necessary to rectify and learn from the mistakes that the EU made on this occasion.Macroeconomics Trade Transatlantic
Does global trade have a future?
12 Jan 2017
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
The relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been conditioned by many factors, from the religious divide between Shia and Sunni interpretations of Islam to the regional role played by external forces, such as the US. We are currently witnessing the collapse of the traditional Middle East order, most dramatically in Syria.
This breakdown has been accompanied by a rapprochement between the US and Iran. But far from producing a more stable situation, it is nurturing a reaction by Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia, that may lead to more regional rivalries and confrontation. There are two camps—the Shia led by Iran and the Sunni led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—that are colliding in several places, from Syria to Yemen.
It is a clash of divergent religious branches but above all of power and strategic interests. Thus far the tensions have, to some extent, been kept under control. But they may well escalate in the near future.
Read the full articlein the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Rafael L. Bardají Islam Middle East Security Transatlantic
Rafael L. Bardají
Religion, power and chaos in the Middle East
03 May 2016
Twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, there is no viable alternative on the horizon to NATO’s security umbrella over an expanded Europe. The idea floated a quarter of a century ago that Europe could scale down its defences and even dismantle the North Atlantic Alliance exposed a flawed fixation on an ‘end of history’ scenario that has never materialised. In practice, the forces of state nationalism and imperialist revisionism in Russia have proved stronger than those of liberalism and international cooperation with the West.
In many respects, a ‘return of history’ scenario has become more evident in and around Europe, with Russia re-emerging as a revanchist power and threatening Europe’s entire eastern flank. In addition, the EU itself faces existential problems, from the financial and institutional to the demographic and political. In a potentially unstable and fracturing continent, NATO is the sole remaining institution that upholds international security. And it may become the sole multinational organisation that can provide Europe with a measure of coherence. Moreover, NATO is the binding glue of the transatlantic link with Washington.
Read the full article in the June 2016 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Janusz Bugajski Defence EU-Russia Security Transatlantic
Only NATO can defend Europe
04 Apr 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
In a recent interview on the television show 60 Minutes, US President Barack Obama was questioned about the challenge that Russia’s move into Syria represented to his leadership. Obama brushed off the question, saying Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin was acting out of weakness and that the need to prop up President Assad was a sign that the Syrian dictator was losing his grip.
More strikingly, the president added: ‘if you think that running your economy into the ground [referring to the Russian economy] and having to send troops in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership. My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris’ (60 Minutes 2015). This sense of priority might have surprised the audience, especially given the context of the ongoing Syrian tragedy.
More than six years into office, observers are still at pains to define Obama’s foreign policy vision, the philosophy guiding his actions on the international stage. Is the president mostly motivated by domestic aims? To what extent can his foreign policy be defined by a doctrine, and how does it fit into American traditions? Despite the hope created by Obama’s election in 2008, European policymakers have often found the US president disengaged, even aloof.
Early decisions such as the ‘reset’ with Russia, the decision to scrap the missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, or the long and largely unilateral Afghanistan review have fuelled this narrative. Understanding the president’s vision thus matters greatly to Europeans and transatlantic relations, not only as a way to engage Washington in Obama’s last year in office, but to gauge the potential for change and continuity after the end of his second term.
Henry Kissinger, in Diplomacy, describes US foreign policy as oscillating between the traditions of its first two internationalist presidents, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, between a belief in the need to defend US national interests and balance power politics, and an almost messianic self-proclaimed mission to promote liberal democracy (Kissinger 1994). Where does Obama fit into this? He has alternately been called an ‘idealist’ (French 2014) and a ‘realist’ (Kaplan 2014). Some claim that he himself does not know and that it is more than time to choose (Drezner 2013).
The concentrated and opaque nature of decision-making at the White House makes it difficult to deduce the foreign policy vision of a president from the views of his main cabinet members. While the G.W. Bush administration (especially in the first term) was famous for its turf battles between strong personalities such as Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell (Mann 2004), Obama seems firmly in charge of foreign policy, relying on a close-knit group of advisers.
In the case of the conflict in Ukraine, for example, while Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry both signalled their support for the delivery of weaponry to Kyiv to sustain the Russian invasion, the president decided against this course of action, firmly set against any risk of escalation with Moscow.
As a recent Politico article noted: ‘Obama’s West Wing inner circle serves as a brick wall against dissenting views. The president’s most senior advisers—including National Security Adviser Susan Rice and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough—reflect the president’s wariness of escalated U.S. action related to Syria or Russia and, officials fear, fail to push Obama to question his own deeply rooted assumptions’ (Crowley 2015). While Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, is known for her work on the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities (encapsulated in her book A Problem from Hell), it is unlikely she has much say over decision-making today.
Read the full FREE article published in the December 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Benjamin Haddad Foreign Policy Leadership Transatlantic
Is there an Obama doctrine?
14 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 US and the EU began negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in July 2013. The resulting deal will affect almost 40 % of world GDP and have a significant impact on market access for goods, services and investments (European Commission 2015). It will therefore create benefits for citizens and businesses—including SMEs, which are the backbone of economic activity in many European regions.
It is estimated that TTIP will save companies millions of euros and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. According to official estimates from the European Commission (2013), the average European household could save €545 per year and European GDP may increase by nearly 0.5 %. These are welcome forecasts as many Europeans have yet to see the effects of economic recovery following the financial crisis.
Given the extent of the deal and its impact on citizens, democratic control of the negotiations must be guaranteed at all times. The TTIP negotiations have been met with severe criticism as lacking transparency. Moreover, anti-TTIP campaigners claim the deal will lead to a lowering of environmental, food safety and other standards. The speed and power of the Internet and social media mean that these fears, misconceptions and myths have been spread amongst citizens.
Whilst both the EU and the US have underlined the need for confidentiality, efforts have also been made to improve transparency by including relevant stakeholders in discussions, dialogues and open meetings. More specifically, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the EU’s Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives, welcomed the decision by the Council of the EU on 9 October 2014 to publish the negotiating directives for talks on TTIP (European Committee of the Regions 2015b; Council of the European Union 2014a). This decision has been hailed as a step in the direction of greater transparency. However, the CoR also noted its regret that this took place several months after the text had already been leaked online.
It is also widely accepted that member states and the European Commission should step up their efforts to communicate the benefits of TTIP and that the need for transparency and dialogue with civil society should be embraced (European Council 2015). Whilst the Information Working Party’s proposal on how the EU’s communication strategy on TTIP could be enhanced is still eagerly awaited, the CoR believes this strategy should go one step further and incorporate the EU’s local and regional authorities. Unless this happens, it will be difficult for citizens to see—and to have confidence—that the EU is working towards economic growth and job creation across Europe whilst maintaining a high level of protection for the environment, health, safety, consumers and data privacy.
With this in view, the EPP Group in the CoR would like to propose a communication strategy that is focused on stories of real-life experiences from local communities, stories that address the concerns of citizens and show how TTIP will offer significant benefits. This strategy needs to be both transparent and balanced to counterbalance the unsubstantiated negative view which is prevalent in the media in many EU member states.
Mobilising the masses: a grassroots communication strategy for TTIP
30 Nov 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
The US political party system has displayed remarkable stability, unmatched by any other country. The US has had a two-party system with the same two political parties for over 150 years. Since the 1860s, all presidents and nearly all senators and representatives have been members of one of these two parties.
In recent years, however, dissatisfaction with the parties has been high. A record number of Americans now describe themselves as independents. Certain groups have arisen—for example, the Tea Party—which some believed might evolve into a third political party. All of these developments have led some observers to believe that the time is right for a third party.
These observers are probably wrong. Although a multiplicity of parties is the rule in most European democracies, the hurdles for third parties have always been high in the US. At the moment the two parties are as dominant in winning elections as they have been in any period. However, this electoral dominance does not mean that the American party system has been static.
The parties are in the midst of several dramatic changes: (1) the Republican and Democratic parties have become highly polarised, ideological parties with significant differences in worldview, (2) the two parties have weak discipline and fractures within their ranks, and (3) the two political parties now have significant competition from outside groups in terms of raising and spending funds on political campaigns. All of these developments have made the challenge of governing significantly more difficult.
This article will lay out why, despite evidence to the contrary, there is little prospect of the emergence of a third party and how the above-mentioned developments in the political parties present challenges to effective governance.
The hard road for a third party
US politics has several features that have always made the successful formation of a third party difficult. In all federal and the vast majority of state elections, the country has single-member districts and does not have proportional representation. The extensive size of the country, combined with the winner-take-all aspects of congressional elections and the Electoral College, mean that a party must not only be strong enough to win in individual states and districts, but also have electoral strength in several regions of the US. Add to these systemic factors that many states have erected obstacles to ballot access and it is clear that the road to success for a third party will always be a difficult one.
Read the full FREE article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.John C. Fortier Democracy Elections Party Structures Political Parties Transatlantic
John C. Fortier
Polarised and fractured US political parties and the challenges of governing
09 Sep 2015
Engagement, involvement and empowerment—these are the political buzzwords often linked to modern forms of participation via the Internet. For many citizens the Internet has emerged as an indispensable medium that provides powerful digital tools for learning, networking and communication. Since the Internet is open and transparent, it easily facilitates collaborative action in innumerable respects. As a result, Internet users generally benefit from shared information that is local, bottom-up and easily accessible worldwide.
Because of these characteristics, many civil rights campaigners, political commentators and politicians have been calling for a stronger role for the Internet in formal politics and the formation of political opinion. According to their reasoning, e-participation—that is, a greater use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in governance and law-making—encourages more people to engage in political processes, helps to overcome prevailing democratic deficits and increases trust in politicians and governments.
Most EU member states already employ various e-participation tools, which help to facilitate public policymaking at local, regional and federal levels. E-voting tools, e-petitions, online stakeholder surveys and online public consultations are frequently applied to involve citizens in political decision-making. At the EU level, the European Commission and the European Parliament have incorporated similar tools to encourage citizen ownership and inclusion.
For EU institutions, online public consultations represent a key tool for transparent and accountable policymaking. By means of online questionnaires, both the European Parliament and the Commission aim to encourage multiple stakeholders to provide input on legislative processes in ways that go beyond traditional consultations, which are sometimes aimed exclusively at stakeholders. The EU explicitly aims to give ordinary citizens, civil society organisations and other organised interests the opportunity to express their opinions.
Read the full FREE article published in the June 2015 issue of the European View, the Martens Centre policy journal.Matthias Bauer Internet Trade Transatlantic
Campaign-triggered mass collaboration in the EU’s online consultations: the ISDS in TTIP
09 Sep 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
For the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, 2014 was a year of significant changes that reflect the organisation’s maturity and its established position on the European think tank scene.Democracy Economy Elections Foreign Policy Transatlantic
Activity Report 2014
19 Mar 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
The upcoming year will be a very significant year. Important events will be remembered during the course of it; the huge enlargement of both the EU and NATO which occurred 10 years ago; the shot in Sarajevo 100 years ago which triggered the First World War and the fall of the Iron Curtain in Europe which occurred 25 years ago.
These anniversaries are undoubtedly a powerful incentive to ensure that not only political leaders but also people outside of politics contemplate the future of our continent and the world. For political leaders the aforementioned anniversaries are inspiration to responsibly shape the future architecture of the once again reunified Europe.
So it is home, a cosy abode for all countries, nationalities and ethnic groups — an inclusive home for all its inhabitants. The specified milestones in the history of our countries, of Europe and of the world, will be marked at the same time while the EU is working intensively on new rules for mutual coexistence in the common European house. The new rules have in part been forced to be implemented due to the economic and financial crisis, and also as an effort to succeed in intensifying global competition.
We need new rules and effective tools so we can overcome the consequences of the financial and economic crisis with minimal cost to our citizens. And also to help us avoid the repeating the same errors and mistakes that led to the crisis into the future.
It will not be easy to fine tune an orchestra of 28 players, of which many are convinced that they are the virtuoso. But many of us feel that change is necessary, that further development cannot be stopped. Personally, I believe there are still a number of areas suitable for deeper integration.
However, there are also areas in which power should be left in the hands of member states. I think we need more effective European cooperation, but also efficient internal competition that will stimulate the development of a united Europe. It is not just the issue of the consistent application of the principle of subsidiarity, but also artfully creating tools that could and should inspire leaders at national level to form effective economic and social models according to local, regional, historical, cultural, and geographical conditions. Obviously, in strict compliance with the agreed rules. In my experience and in my view: cooperation, competition and solidarity should dominate in the EU.
We all feel that these new rules at the European level are needed. For example, in the banking sector. The banking sector should be more durable, less vulnerable, but also sufficiently conducive for business development. It should be more effective, for example in helping small and medium-sized enterprises. We should not even prevent stricter scrutiny of compliance with the agreed rules.
Personally, I support the legal enforceability of compliance with these rules. Equally I consider structural reforms at the national level, in other words in the individual member states to be as important. The world is changing and changing fast. Previous sources of employment are no longer as strong as in the past, meaning Europe has to begin to look at new areas for growth and employment, like in renewable energies and in the science sector for example.
With innovation and creativity, new opportunities can be born for EU citizens. So I think, in Europe, it is not only more discipline and accountability that we need, but more creativity and the courage to make the required changes. Only then can we stop the threat of unemployment, particularly among the young. Only then can our economy create the conditions for the creation of new jobs, which I consider the largest challenge in the New Year to a common Europe.
I consider a great challenge in 2014 to be how to manage migration and its implications. The EU and its member states will continue to intensively apply itself to the areas and regions from which refugees come (it will continue to be Africa, particularly the north, but it will also be Syria and other Middle East countries, it will also be regions and countries and military conflicts).
To help solve problems in the regions where they arise is by far the best solution even though it is not an easy prevention migration. I think, however, that there is also an urgent need to adopt new rules in this area. So that, for example, the institutes of political asylum is not misused for economic objectives and that the accepted migrants integrate effectively with the citizens of the countries that accept them. At the same time, we must ensure a convergence of our asylum systems and a proper application of existing rules by the member states. Finally, Europe needs a much better system to regulate labour immigration, to ensure that it does not lose out in global competition for the bright minds that can bring dynamism and new ideas to our societies.
Today it often seems that the project of multiculturalism in Europe is failing. This is also true because instead of making use of individual opportunities, immigrants are sometimes promoting their interests collectively. Some groups of immigrants set themselves apart. Instead of contribution to the common good, we sometimes witness abuses to the social system of the country. Europe should continue to show migrants its kind face. However, it should also show the necessary courage and determination against those who would want to abuse this kindness. In order to prevent problems with integration, European political parties should make a strong effort to bring immigrants into the political and public life. Otherwise, we are risking even deeper problems with integration.
Undeniably great, maybe even the dominant challenge to the free world, and also for our European community, is the challenge of security and the duty to prevent attacks like the one of September 11.Likewise, atrocities such as the attack on marathon runners and spectators in Boston, and most recently the residents of Volgograd. I want to highlight just three essential key factors of our European security:
• First, is the transatlantic alliance. A steadfast alliance of the EU and the US; effective cooperation in the NATO environment is and must remain a fundamental element of our European security as well as global stability;
• The second major element I consider to be, is the creation and development of European defence capabilities which will strengthen the partnership element of the European transatlantic alliance and will be complementary to the existing capacities and capabilities of NATO;
• Finally I consider as necessary the modernisation of our armies at national level and the cooperation of national armies at a regional level, which should be dominated by the principle of sharing and pooling, as well as smart defence.
Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall the then US President George Bush senior stated his dream, his vision, to make Europe whole and free. Much of that vision has come true. It is amazing how Europe has changed in 25 years. But the work is not yet completed, not in the Western Balkans, or in the countries of the Eastern Partnership.
I believe that this year will continue to see the success story of Serbia, as well as the normalisation of its relations with Pristhina. That Macedonia and Greece will manage to unravel the Gordian Knot and further progress will be recorded in Kosovo and Albania and that Bosnia and Herzegovina will also see improvements. Montenegro is already on the right track. 2014 is a year of opportunities for these countries and the challenge for the EU is to develop wise, active and responsible policies to contribute to the realisation of these opportunities.
The big challenge for us all is the movement that is taking place on our eastern borders, especially in Ukraine. The EU should take an interest in the positive and in particular the sustainable development of Ukraine. It should not however compromise on its principles and criteria. Only then can the citizens of this country properly orientate themselves. Because, ultimately, only Ukrainian citizens can decide on their future.
The same as we decided our future ourselves, we, Slovaks, but also Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and the other countries of the former communist bloc 25 years ago.
I believe that this year we will also collectively protect and promote human rights not only in our countries, in those countries that aspire to EU membership, but everywhere in the world. The EU will be consistent and principled with any country in the world. That we will develop strategic partnerships also with countries where human rights are t limited, but that we shall be courageous and consistent in the protection of human rights in these countries.
We enter the New Year as a rule always with hope, with optimism, with positive expectations. It is good and natural. However, one should admit that we live in troubled times. The previous levels of prosperity are over but yet some people are expecting someone to come along to sign a cheque to get ourselves out from these troubled times. For some time it seemed that the answer to the challenges of the 21st century would be globalisation.
Technological development and significant social movements in all corners of the world have indeed led to rapid globalisation. Of growing concern and anxiety for people in today’s world is the frequent feeling that there will be ever less space in it for them.
People feel that they are becoming ever more lost in the labyrinth of communication highways and gigantic corporations. That they are losing their identity, their roots, and their traditions. Young people especially nowadays find it hard to find a job and fell confident about their future.
The number of people who place the blame for their own problems on politics is dangerously increasing. Many blame the so-called standard political parties. In my country – and I think it is not an exception – it is fashionable to vote for extremism. Elections are becoming manifestations of revolt, not choice. Militants, extremists and populists are winning recognition. The challenge of the EU is to offer answers to such trends, to such developments. The answer to the current difficulties cannot be extremism or chaos, as suggested in some circles. The answer cannot be collectivism as suggested by many, even by reasonable people.
We are rich in experience of collectivism in Central Europe: we all had the same, but the same was very little. The answer is the protection and promotion of individual freedom, individual rights, but also of the individual responsibility of every person.
The answer is politics that allows for individual opportunity, individual assertion of oneself, individual dignity. In other words, politics that puts a focus on quality education, on science, research and innovation. Politics that prefers and honours a healthy lifestyle, but also a real solidarity for those who are able to aid those whose handicaps prevent or limit them from creating these values.
I think an important and serious test for all responsible European leaders ahead will be the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament. To join in the efforts of combating populism and shining a light on their rhetoric, regardless of whether it comes from the left or right. The ways to respond to the challenges of today are various but must be offered in the values of our Western world which are also universal values.
These values should be unconditionally returned to, and these values are to be held onto. As did Konrad Adenauer, Alcide de Gasperi, Robert Schuman, and Helmut Khol for example.
If we stick to these traditional universal values, we can find the right answers to the challenges of not only the present, but also to those we will face further down the road.
[Speech given at the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Annual Reception ‘European Challenges 2014’, 22 January 2014]Mikuláš Dzurinda Centre-Right Economy Leadership Transatlantic Values
Challenges for 2014
24 Jan 2014
Banking Economy Energy Growth Transatlantic
Economic Ideas Forum Helsinki 2013 – Conference Report
02 Sep 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
Karl Marx wasn’t wrong on everything. Take his famous dictum about history repeating itself: The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. If 2003 was a transatlantic tragedy, with the open rift within the West about the Iraq War, then 2013, with its revelations of American data mining and spying on allies, and the ensuing European shock and anger, risks becoming the year of a transatlantic farce.
Again, European atlanticists look stupid – poodles to the US, so to speak. Again, and even more ominously, resentment against America has become a tool of European politics: witness the German Social Democrats’ blatant attempts (http://ces.tc/14XJ2mS) to paint Chancellor Merkel as too docile vis-à-vis American unilateralism. The pictures showing her smiling next to Barack Obama in Berlin, two weeks ago still an asset, suddenly have become a liability in her re-election bid.
Nevertheless, this is not 2003 – the main reason being that Europe’s relative weight in the transatlantic relationship has actually further declined over the last ten years: both militarily and economically. Militarily, the United States is – rightly or wrongly – withdrawing its last major combat units from Europe while Europeans compete in cutting their defence budgets to record lows. And they show very little willingness to shoulder any major new security burden. Economically, the US is now moving out of the crisis while Europe seems mired in stagnation, with dwindling exports, low competitiveness and a mountain of over-regulation. America is busily exploring shale gas, thereby creating windfall profits as well as reducing its energy dependence – while Europeans are dragging their feet over shale gas and thus risk missing out on cheap energy and less dependence on Russia.
Now we know that in 2003, the US also believed it could get on without the (West) Europeans. Or without anybody else, for that matter – after all, the term unilateralism was then born in reference to a White House allegedly in the grip of neocon ideology. But that mood changed very quickly in Washington, where the second George W. Bush administration became very cooperative with all Europeans – much more so than Obama’s America ‘pivoting’ towards Asia.
So where does this leave us atlanticists in the days of transatlantic spying and data mining? Three major truths come to mind:
First, most transatlantic spying is done jointly, not against each other. And it is important to keep the data mining apart from the eavesdropping. Data mining in private communication, according to all we know today, is also done by the French and British intelligence services, and the German authorities were at least informed about some of the NSA’s activities. After all, some spectacular successes of European services against would-be terrorists, such as Germany’s preventing the ‘Sauerland’ gang (http://ces.tc/12fEIkj) from killing hundreds in 2007, were already then explained by US services having used telephone and internet data.
Hence, there is no reason for Europeans to be particularly morally outraged about Snowden’s revelations. On the other hand, the scope of the snooping on the internet will be open for debate. Everyone in this debate subscribes to the need to find the right balance between privacy and security. No one can claim to have found the perfect solution. And as to the spying on allies: while we still have to learn about its actual scope – it is clear that diplomats always have to envisage that others will try to get hold of their secrets – even friends. In the EU institutions, with the lax attitude to secrecy and some Member States’ tendency to leak documents, it usually doesn’t take listening bugs or malware for others to find out what the European External Action Service or the Commission are up to.
Second, are trade talks such as TTIP the appropriate framework to hit back in anger? – No, because that would be self-defeating on a large scale. Due to the growing transatlantic asymmetry, and because of Europe’s dire need to increase its own potentials for growth, it has very little leverage through suspending or dragging out the negotiations. They will be hard enough from now on, in any case. To open up US public procurement, for example, or for Europeans to accept importing genetically manufactured organisms (GMOs), will require protracted domestic battles on either side. And, of course, discussing digital services in the TTIP framework will be a good opportunity to speak about privacy and security. But that would also presuppose having a digital single market in the EU – which is not in sight at the moment. All this means that the talks must go on now. Transatlantic differences in the digital field can be resolved in due time.
Third, it is time to develop a more realistic atlanticism (http://ces.tc/14XJhyc) : That includes being a bit more open about the dilemmas of freedom and security in the age of global terrorism. Some of the transatlantic rhetoric about the freedom of the individual as a core value of the West will sound hollow if we don’t more openly redefine it for the 21st century. There will have to be more exceptions to fundamental rights if we want to preserve them at all. If we pay attention to that, then 2013 does not have to become the year of the transatlantic farce.Roland Freudenstein Foreign Policy Internet Trade Transatlantic
Transatlantic relations need more realism – not more hysteria
08 Jul 2013
Henna Hopia Defence Foreign Policy Leadership Security Transatlantic
Breaking down the Walls: Improving EU-NATO Relations
05 Jul 2013
Europe needs to use the strengths of both the EU and NATO to effectively respond to the ever more diverse threats that require collective efforts. This is the only way through which European security can be guaranteed in the face of struggles with limited resources and decreasing defence funding, as well as the further US disengagement from Europe. For this to happen, and as both organisations share most of the same member states, it is vital to achieve better cooperation between the EU and NATO. Attempts to strengthen EU-NATO relations have been made, but these have not been enough. The attempts always hit the same walls: both between the EU and NATO, and within these organisations. All EU Member States and the organisations themselves must now take responsibility and end the futile competition between the EU and NATO that is undermining European security.Defence Foreign Policy Security Transatlantic
Breaking Down the Walls: Improving EU–NATO Relations
29 May 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
Ten years ago last month, the launch of a second U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein exposed intra-NATO differences of temperament and philosophy in sharp relief. So stark was the divergence of perspective on either side of the Atlantic that analyst Robert Kagan—in a justly celebrated Policy Review essay and subsequent book titled “Of Paradise and Power”—was moved to declare that Europe and the U.S. had come to inhabit two separate planets entirely.
Americans were still “from Mars,” he suggested, maintaining the alliance’s traditional emphasis on real and potential force-projection as a tool in international affairs. Europeans, on the other hand, were now “from Venus,” their leaders deliberately “moving beyond power into a self-contained world of laws and rules and transnational negotiation and cooperation.” It was a striking metaphor, and Mr. Kagan’s masterful description of its intricacies continues to influence how policy makers on both continents view each other.
The only wrinkle is that in recent years neither continent has behaved the way it is supposed to. In Barack Obama, the U.S. has a president who is clearly not from Mars. His foreign and defense policies—troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, attempts at diplomatic engagement with Iran, and so forth—are guided by concerns that might once have been described as “European”: a presumptive skepticism about military power, and an instinctive preference for multilateralism and diplomacy in its place.
Initially presented as an overdue restoration of “balance” and “partnership” to trans-Atlantic relations, what the president has wrought is considerably more dramatic. “America cannot turn inward,” then-Sen. Obama proclaimed at a July 2008 speech in Berlin. It seems he underestimated us.
America has managed to turn inward with an almost Venusian vengeance. Nowadays it is Europeans who must repeatedly goad Washington to join a humanitarian intervention in Libya against Moammar Gadhafi. It is Europeans who try but fail to enlist the U.S. in an effort to arm the antigovernment resistance in Syria. Europeans—former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in this instance—must lobby the U.S. Congress for tougher sanctions against Tehran. Europeans—François Hollande, Mr. Sarkozy’s Socialist successor—make decisions about troop deployments in Mali more or less on their own.
President Obama’s advisers like to style their last-in-the-saddle reserve as “leading from behind.” In London and Paris and elsewhere on the Continent, behind closed doors and off-the-record, they call it something else.
It is not merely the substance of recent policy that has surprised and distressed our European allies. Paradoxically, “unilateralism”—the great, tragic flaw ascribed by its critics to George W. Bush’s presidency—is the one impulse his successor has most notably retained.
The first shock came in Warsaw, early in Mr. Obama’s first term: The Polish government got only a few hours’ advance notice that Washington had decided to cancel a painfully negotiated missile-defense system that was irritating Moscow. Next came the president’s December 2009 speech on Afghanistan—announcing coalition manpower and scheduling commitments about which the Europeans had been only nominally consulted. Then came the White House advisory that Mr. Obama would break with tradition and not attend the 2010 EU-U.S. Summit in Madrid; EU representatives weren’t informed beforehand.
So the Atlantic Alliance remains as fissured as ever, but for new and very different reasons. These days Europeans don’t complain to visiting Americans about feeling bullied by the White House. They complain about feeling ignored. It isn’t a question of policy per se, but rather a general sense of alienation: a cumulative impression across the Continent that liberal, democratic Europe—as both idea and practical priority—is sliding off Washington’s radar.
More is at stake here than wounded vanity. European responses to this recent retreat from traditional American leadership vary. The French and British seem inclined to fill the vacuum—on an occasional basis and economic circumstances permitting. The Germans and Poles appear to prefer small-bore, bilateral arrangements of convenience—with respect to Russia, for example. Nevertheless, the result is ultimately the same: The vitality of “the West” as a global security lodestar is fading.
In Washington, with isolationist tendencies in both major parties, our policy makers may not have noticed. But the non-Western rest of the world is paying close attention—and eagerly anticipating an international playing field in which vigorous, coherent NATO responses need no longer be assumed.
This op-ed by Kenneth R. Weinstein, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Institute originally appeared in the ‘Wall Street Journal’.Kenneth R. Weinstein Foreign Policy Leadership Transatlantic
Kenneth R. Weinstein
Venus and Mars Revisited
18 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
President Obama’s state of the union address contained a big success for transatlantic relations: “And tonight, I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union – because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”
A comprehensive Partnership agreement, covering investments, regulatory convergence and other non-tariff barriers would be a game changer in world trade relations. And this, for different reasons:
– It would enable the European Union and the United States to lead instead of follow when it comes to standard setting. This might seem as a technical argument but it is not. It would enable the EU and the US to set world standards for electrical cars, mobile devices, etc. giving our industries a competitive advantage.
– Indirectly, this Partnership agreement will increase the appetite for other economies to open up as well. When barriers to invest between the EU and the US are lowered, it will increase the interest of emerging economies to engage in similar negotiations. As they will want to avoid that EU or US investments are diverted from their economies to the transatlantic economic area. As such, a EU-US agreement will revive multilateral free trade negotiations.
Overall, a EU-US Partnership will make both economies more competitive and stronger. Such an agreement will not be a zero-sum game but a gain for both parties. However, some EU and US industries will face more competition and might lose or, to the contrary, become more globally competitive. Moreover, it might make the US a bit more European and the Europeans more American, an evolution that should benefit both societies.Stefaan De Corte Economy Growth Jobs Trade Transatlantic
Stefaan De Corte
Transatlantic Free Trade – An Agenda for Jobs, Growth & Global Trade Leadership
14 Feb 2013
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