21st Jul 2019


A new call to partnership and the vision of transatlantic solidarity

The Joint Declaration "Renewing the Transatlantic Partnership" is an expression of bi-partisan consensus, America's focus on a changing Europe and the need for complimentary action. Its basic premise is clear. The United States and a united Europe are indispensable allies in the 21st century.

Establishing US Priorities: Strengthen Multilateral Relations with a larger Union

The Joint Declaration acknowledges that America's multilateral relations with the European Union deserve the attention devoted to its bilateral relationships to sustain transatlantic solidarity. The mechanisms to insure that political relations with the Union are increased warrant greater focus, particularly at the Congressional level.

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This is significant at a time when both continents are absorbed with internal challenges- the US as a response to its preoccupation with the domestic impact of global terrorism and the EU as a condition of energy spent on enlargement and constitutional reform.

An investment in stronger multilateral relations between the American Congress and the European Parliament is necessary to promote increased parliamentary accountability. National parliaments face challenges to reach their publics. More direct consultation between US administrations and EU institutions can be useful to learn about mutual concerns. Much depends though on the respective leaders in office, their willingness to listen to each other, and to citizens. This is critical given the Joint Declaration's recommendation to offer American observers an appropriate place at the Convention.

Establishing Joint Priorities: the EU and NATO work in complimentary ways

American policymakers recognize the challenges that the European Council faces to achieve consensus. Here the primary role of leaders is not only to negotiate. It is to communicate about the European Union's vocation effectively with citizens. Leaders are subject to conflicting pressures exacerbated, at times, by media coverage. Public opinion is local, national and, increasingly, global in its criticism of policy initiatives that the democratic majority often does not understand.

Article 3 of the Draft EU Constitution underlines that the Union's objective is to promote peace. Consider Bosnia-Hercegovina and the conflict the country experienced in Europe. Present legislation for educational reforms on the agenda of the state parliament is significant. This legislation seeks to unify school education for the first time since the war. It aims to abolish the segregation and divisive teaching methods that hamper reconciliation within that country. Educational reform is a priority if Bosnia-Hercegovina wants to join the Union in the next decade. This is one scenario in which the EU may provide the "stability tools that complement well the NATO security toolbox."

The European goal to provide a visible presence in security and defense is most relevant in the Balkans, starting with the European command of Operation Allied Harmony in Macedonia and potentially in Bosnia. Of particular importance to peacekeeping operations is the extent to which the officers and personnel in different European countries experience joint training. Innovative possibilities to use multimedia learning in conjunction with American counterparts offer unprecedented opportunities in security cooperation. In addition to a necessary agreement on mutually acceptable "minimum levels of real annual growth in defense spending" among Europe's NATO members, these are elements in the development of the European pillar of transatlantic solidarity.

Establishing Leadership Priorities: Address the \"Logic of Cleavage\"

European peacekeeping operations require a sustainable popular consensus in support of reconstruction and conflict prevention. The Iraq crisis demonstrates that the "logic of unity" is not a given. During the Information Revolution, it is imperative to inspire an intergenerational dialogue about transatlantic partnership and its responsibilities in global politics.

The Joint Declaration does not explicitly address the fact that leaders in America and Europe rely increasingly on creative initiatives in public education to sustain mutual understanding. Media coverage of conflict and reconstruction efforts does not counter anti-American or anti-European rhetoric on either continent. In the tradition of John Dewey, a vision of solidarity is the educator's responsibility as a public servant.

Long-standing initiatives in understanding among peoples, particularly the Robert Bosch Fellowships, offer American citizens purposeful experiences in Germany and Europe. These experiences create the sense of meaning that is the basis for shared values over generations. Our respective leaders pledge to represent these values. Initiatives that demonstrate a far-reaching investment in transatlantic public education have a 21st century vocation. It is to redesign a communications bridge that spans the generations of our historical relationship.

The original bridge, constructed during the last century, is the legacy of immigrants and refugees fleeing the Continent's wars. The American society continues to reap the fruits of their labors. A new call to partnership is made by Americans, leaders and citizens alike, children of Europe committed pragmatically to the vision of transatlantic solidarity.

Colette Mazzucelli assisted with the ratification of the Treaty on European Union ("Maastricht") in the Federal Republic of Germany as a Robert Bosch Fellow in1992-93. She is a member of the group of citizens who created the Transatlantic Internet Exchange Service (TIES) in 1997. Mazzucelli is Co-Founder, TIMSSE, Sciences Po Paris and Deputy Director General, IBC, Cambridge.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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