March 01, 2020

The Building Blocks of a Progressive Transatlantic Vision

By Rachel Rizzo

As the US presidential elections in November 2019 quickly approach, transatlanticists in the United States and Europe are trying to decipher what the next four years may bring for the US-European partnership. A second term for Donald Trump means that the difficulties that have plagued the relationship for the last three years will almost certainly continue. A Democrat entering office, on the other hand, could provide an opportunity for a clean slate. No matter who ultimately claims victory at the polls, one thing is certain: The US-European relationship needs a makeover; a progressive vision that places new priorities at the forefront of transatlantic cooperation; one that lays the foundation for the two sides to jointly tackle the most important issues of our time. But what exactly, would this vision look like?

First and foremost, a progressive vision means elevating the status of the US-European Union (EU) relationship. For decades, the foundation of the US-European partnership has been the NATO alliance, which has over-militarized transatlantic relations and prioritized a narrow vision of security and defense. The two sides often get sidetracked debating issues like European defense spending and how to counter Russia. While these issues are important, they are by no means the most important. There other aspects of today's geopolitical landscape that will prove to be more consequential in the years to come; issues that NATO does not exist to tackle, and which, instead, will require deeper and more meaningful cooperation between the US and the EU. At the top of the list are climate change, a rising China, and a recommitment to human rights.

Read the full essay in the Heinrich Böll Foundation's Multilateralism 2.0 compendium.

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