In the face of an increasingly multipolar international order, Europe and the US must work together to maintain their interests, influence, and security. But in a world where wielding hard power is no longer enough, perhaps the US has something to learn from the EU’s foreign policy model?
Prior to the elections, the EUISS asked experts from EU Centers of Excellence in the United States to identify the most important domestic or foreign policy issues that are set to shape transatlantic relations in the coming years. Their messages to leaders and policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic are clear.
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Message 1: we grow together or we sink together
Economic recovery, job creation and financial interdependence across the Atlantic deserve greater attention. Ronald Linden (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) observes that despite the ‘Europe bashing’ in the United States, the transatlantic partners are bound together by economics: trade, goods and services and foreign direct investment which collectively provide millions of jobs across both continents. This leads Brandy Joliff (Boulder, Colorado) to conclude that full-scale economic recovery is not possible if the focus is only on the US economy, with Europe’s recovery arguably equally as vital and just as likely to influence both the current election and the term of either candidate.
Message 2: our challenges are intertwined
The second discussion addresses major domestic trends in the United States and their implications for the future of transatlantic cooperation. Elizabeth Covington and Myra Marx Ferree (Madison, Wisconsin) point to the demographic shifts as ‘the most transformative issue of this generation’. They argue that regardless of who wins the upcoming US elections, the best European response is to recognise the common challenges we face and try to create a common future that that will survive the demographic changes to come. One of these demographic challenges is immigration which according to Gary Freeman (Austin, Texas) is very likely to remain a focus of partisan disputes regardless of who is in the White House.
Message 3: if we don’t lead (together), others will
Finally, some suggest that a number of changes will take place in the realm of foreign policy. Jeffrey Anderson (Washington, DC) argues that two important and relatively novel features of American international leadership are at stake in the presidential election. One relates to the general kind of leadership that the world, and notably Europe, has come to expect from Washington. The other has to do with the specific contributions of the US administration to the debate about the current international economic crisis. In this context, Warren G. Lavey (Chicago, Illinois) highlights that the next US administration will face high expectations for stronger actions and leadership on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Beverly Crawford (Berkeley, California) completes the analysis by arguing that a new US administration will have to deal with the increasing limitations to traditional ‘power’ in dealing with the changing nature of threat and risk. In addition, a shift in the global balance of power may hamper the US ability to continue to assert international primacy. Therefore, unless America collaborates with Europe, it is in danger of adapting to a world order shaped by others, facing new threats alone, insisting on inadequate and outdated practices, and exercising the wrong kind of power to maintain primacy.