Why the transatlantic relations are more important than ever
Today, the west as a political vision of liberalism is in the grip of an identity crisis, which means an identity crisis within the civil society in general. For almost half a century the Europeans could assume that the U.S. would demonstrate the Western concept wherever there are errors and discrepancies, despite Vietnam, Iraq and Guantánamo. The clear commitment to a strong transatlantic partnership which withstands stresses and strains belongs to the core of liberal foreign policy. But it seems that Europe and the US standing at the beginning of an epoch of illiberalism. This shows the rise of right-nationalistic and populist parties across Europe or the increasing division of society in the US. Many citizens lost the belief in common and shared values, feel abandoned from the “establishment”, closing themselves off from each other or just want to be left alone from global politics. After the presidential election the US were in a state of shock. But what is the situation in the rest of the European Union? The EU is the only supranational institution which has operated in ‘crisis mode’ for more than seven years now. The concern over a rising wave of nationalism alternates with the unchanged risk of a longer lasting recession and weak demand.
For a strategic community of responsibility
Until today the European population especially in Germany underestimates the importance of the transatlantic relationship in security matters. Everybody knows: Without the U.S. there can be no NATO, without NATO there will be no security. The Europeans need to get away from the misbelief of unconditional security in Europe. Close political cooperation is not a permanent gift; it’s a process of give and take at both informational and military. To consolidate “the bond of friendship” a strategic community of responsibility with the US („Partners in Leadership“) must be the answer. Transatlantic security cooperation must be seen as a win-win-situation, not a zero-sum-game. Defensibility comes from the objective capabilities not intensions, because these could change overnight. At first, Germany needs to take more responsibility in EU and NATO according to its economic strength. Furthermore, the US government must not forget that a strong and stable Europe is in the utmost interest of USA. Both sides should identify further areas in which each can pool their operative efforts, capabilities and concepts of action on the working level of the armed forces, the police, the intelligence services and civil defense. But a holistic security approach cannot function without the instruments of “soft power”: diplomacy, development aid and precaution in the event of a crisis.
- regulatory parliamentary debates and government consultations between Germany, the E.U. and the U. S. at ministerial level (according to government consultations of the German federal government with France, Spain, India, Brasilia and China)
- development of a coordinated political and military Russia-Strategy within NATO
- establishment of a NATO-Russia crisis center in NATO headquarter
- drawing up a common U.N. network-charter against disinformation
- development of a coordinated political and military strategy with the U.S. for stabilization and peace-building in the Middle East
- further increase in the participation of German police and soldiers in peacekeeping missions
- common exchange programs for the police, the military, fire service, public disaster response and public administration
Economic growth in an increasingly digitized world
The EU and the US must work together to promote and support free markets and fair trade. Political and economic freedom is indivisible. Who really wants freedom in society but no freedom in economy or who praises a free economy but is against a liberal society will end up losing both. Protectionism is not in the interest of any trade partner because at the end it will always lead to massively higher prices, lower quality or worse service, galopping inflation and declining living standards for more vulnerable sectors of the population. The clear message on both sides of the Atlantic must be that open markets benefit everyone; the US-market as well as the EU-market. For the first time the US has replaced France as Germany’s most important trade partner outside the EU. So it’s therefore still essential to negotiate a Trade and Investment Enhancement Agreement between the EU and the US. The signing of the free trade Agreement with the EU and Canada was an important step in the right direction. Now both sides should ratify the agreement immediately. At the same time EU and US should stand up for a restart of the Doha Round because as a multilateral institution WTO is in the long-term the best way to a fully operational world trade system. To put this idea into practice, Germany should use the current Presidency of the G20.
- progressive alignment of high environmental and social standards
- further implementation of the Charter for Sustainable Economic Activity
- cooperative efforts towards a new international economic- and financial order (regulatory regime for financial markets) and a coordination of economic policies
- learning from the US in development and promotion of a European start-up culture
- further exchanges of experience, pilot projects, networks supporting to develop a common understanding about entrepreneurial spirit in the US and the EU
Fostering of social and cultural exchanges for a better understanding
Important levels for exchange are the very close cultural and social links between Germany and the US. At the academic level US and Germany should support the exchange between universities and also strengthen and increase pupil exchanges which have been declining for a number of years. Voluntary pooling of the different actors and possible new initiatives could be a solution. Moreover professional exchange programs between and within organizations and companies need further simplification and debureaucratization for example through visa facilitation. These measures create trust and mean practical use for the people in both countries. The German Federal Government should establish a Consul General in the heart of the Midwest of the US to intensify the dialogue, common meetings and the gathering of information in this region. The presidential elections have shown that the US are more than the east and west coast regions.