For many years, the European Union and the United States have been leaders among the nations. Now, as we face times presenting old and new challenges that press our tolerance and seemingly diverge our similar perspectives, it is more critical than ever that these two powers show that they are still capable of this leadership with unity and compromise. In the United States, the recent presidential elections have revealed the country’s deep rift and enigmatic shift in desires for public policy. Similar division and modification exists in Europe as conveyed by Brexit and the elections in key countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands. All of these factors are made more stringent by the mass immigration of refugees over the past few years. Yet, though the road is seemingly long and tough for both tenacious parties, there is a light at the end of the tunnel(s) and a way to show the rest of the world that the EU and U.S. are partners and are able to work together as prominent democratic alliances.
To begin, the transatlantic partners will need to portray boldness and more agility in their leadership to establish unity within their own countries. Mend the internal divide to the extent that each develops more cohesive populations. As we have seen recently on both sides, the public is tired of the old ways and ready for change. Thus, politicians need to be willing and able to adapt to challenges, while standing firm in their philosophy, as well as readying themselves with a team that is strong and able to be maneuvered into swift action. In the United States, regardless of your views of Donald Trump or his politics, his campaign displayed authority and a sense of this type of readiness to move that evidently caught the attention of the American people. Combine that authority with a mindset for public harmony, transparency, a vision for the people and a team compact with the right individuals and you have a leadership that many people are willing to follow. This is what is needed and crucial for both the United States and the European Union moving forward in order to solidify themselves internally, maintain balance and, thus, enhance progression and external relations.
Cooperation among the partners is also eminently imperative in light of the situation in Syria, as well as other Middle East issues, the pressing forces of Russia and inherent competition from China. A new transatlantic dialogue is needed to restructure the relationship. The opportunity to display such collaboration has presented itself via Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. For a few years now, the partners have been discussing and negotiating the idea of a free trade agreement that would boost jobs and economic growth on both sides. In hopes that it would have been completed to date, much has been placed on the line such that if the negotiations were to fail there could be much wider consequences. The decision making process has been slow, at best, and there are several conflicting views that have kept the parties from completing the agreement. However, though opposition has been growing and talk of abandonment has occurred with the recent election in the U.S., the original vision for this deal should not be taken lightly and should not be forgotten. The partnership it shows is vital for setting global standards, as opposed to other countries such as China, and research has revealed that it has the potential to boost jobs and the GDP significantly, among other advantages.
Further, as NATO is strategically essential in the security sector, it is important to reinforce its preeminent role and enhance its effectiveness. Over the past two decades, there have been many changes and additions to the NATO alliance. In its current state, the agility and ability of the forces to activate is questionable due to the lack of resources, numbers and training. In reinforcing the strength of NATO, the doubt of U.S. and EU authority from other regions is diminished. With the recent tensions from Russia in their conflict with Ukraine and relationship with the Syrian regime, the U.S. and EU should be all the more concerned with their meticulousness and aptitudes.
The United States and Europe share similar interests and fundamental values, and although in recent years a sense of separation has appeared, it is essential that this partnership be readdressed and reinvigorated. The divisions that are seen and felt today are preventing growth and unity. As leaders in this world, the EU and U.S. must take a stand and set the stage for the future generations. The next generation has the ability to play a major part in this configuration, as well, and leaders should encourage them to “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves, for the rights of all who need an advocate.” Dialogue, narrative and exchange from young leaders on both sides of the Atlantic is crucial. Enhanced leadership skills, unity of the people, strengthened forces and firm alliances, to name a few, are ways in which we might address the way forward. With this type of action and mindset, we can and will make a change to ensure a more understanding and unified world.