Now more than ever, it has become evident that the transatlantic relations must not be taken for granted. Since the new U.S. president has taken office, unpredictability and unsteadiness has been the new policy strategy of the United States. At the same time, the European countries are still in crisis mode and are more concerned about the Brexit, elections in several countries and other issues than focusing on the bigger picture: How can transatlantic relations be revitalized when their very core is at stake? It needs fresh ideas, persistence, and passion for this huge task. The following explanations shall give an overview of some necessary steps in this respect.
We need younger and more diverse supporters of the transatlantic idea
There is a lack of young, fresh, innovative and particularly female voices when debating transatlantic relations. I am certain that there are very many young people who wish to engage in a frank and open debate on transatlantic relations. Our job should be encouraging young and fresh minds to take part in debates, to sit on panels, to contribute to op-eds in order to make their voice heard. On the other hand, we need to engage in a dialogue with organizers and facilitators such as the G7, the World Economic Forum, and others, to open their stage for young, talented people. If we break up the old structures and let young people talk to senior decision-makers on the highest level, I am sure that the public response will be highly positive. Furthermore, by giving young people access to high-level public discussions, naturally younger media will pay more attention to the topics discussed, which will have the effect that a much bigger share of our target group will be confronted with the question of the future transatlantic partnership.
Trump is not the United States
In recent weeks and month, European politicians, journalists, and various experts criticized the U.S. president for his policies. In my view, too many of them create a picture in which the United States as a country are equal to their president or their administration. By focusing too much on the president and his controversial decisions, there is a risk of narrowing the debate of transatlantic relations too much on one character without drawing attention to many pro-transatlantic forces within the U.S. political system and society. A necessary step would, therefore, be encouraging pro-transatlantic senior politicians to raise their voices in the public debate and to make sure that they are heard by the media, expert groups, and the wider public. These U.S. American voices should have both the opportunity and the responsibility to make sure that especially the younger generation does not lose faith in the transatlantic relations and that we prevent wide-spread anti-Americanism. Furthermore, high-level political figures have a better chance to appear in popular media channels and thus a larger audience.
Using the momentum
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States is undoubtedly a wake-up call for supporters of the Euro-American partnership on both sides of the Atlantic. Hence, we should use the current, unfortunately rather gloomy debate, to show a way forward. A way with new ideas, expressed by young talents and senior experts for a future reanimation. To that end, one should pragmatically use major events where transatlantic relations are being discussed such as the World Economic Forum in January, the Munich Security Conference in February, the G7 summit, NATO summits etc. and organize side events with young, unconventional thinkers who engage in frank discussions with senior officials. These events should also be supported with a social media campaign to ensure a high level of attention in our target group. Via social media or a designated web page, we should also call for comments and opinions.
At the end of this event series, we should draft a catalogue which comprises key aspirations, calls, and assessments. This catalogue should be publicly handed over to political decision-makers such as the German and U.S. American government, the EU Commission, the NATO secretariat etc. to articulate the voice of the younger generation cohesively. The catalogue could also serve as a reference point for journalists and politicians.