Internal Session at Helmut Schmidt University (HSU), University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg. The Fellows discussed changes and continuity of the rationale, values , interests and actors of the transatlantic partnership and produced these matrixes:
The first internal session started with a lively discussion regarding some of the complexities of the issues and questions posed by the Transatlantic relationship. What began as an opening debate regarding how the Transatlantic relationship has changed in the past decades evolved into a normative discussion of the role of non-governmental actors in the future of US-EU relations. The group determined that the largest shift has been in the fact that non-governmental actors are much more important than they were at the start of the US-EU partnership in the 1990’s. Organizations and companies such as Facebook and Youtube have a large influence on the Transatlantic space.
Moreover, there was a broad debate regarding the definition of the values shared by the US and EU, and how these values have changed since the fall of the DDR. The group collectively concluded that there are some core values of democracy, free speech, and liberty shared by the US and EU, but they translate these values into policy differently. America and Europe found a partnership for combatting their common enemy during the Cold War, and that their alliance was built out of self preservation. Many agreed that some values of the US and EU are becoming more polarized due to shifting value systems and debates within the societies.
While the governments and elites of the two regions share core traditional values, these may not be in line with the values of the constituents. Some Fellows brought up the point that American and European citizens still share the same discontentedness regarding the effects of globalization. The underlying conclusion of the debate was that the “values” shared by the US and EU are constantly shifting, reverting, and interpreted differently by citizens and elites. This detracts from the importance of values, rather than shared security, economic, and policy challenges, for the Transatlantic partnership. For example, there has been a concentration of wealth, the individual is more powerful than ever, and there is more city to city contact that are extremely important to relations between the US and EU.
During this session, the Atlantic Expedition staff and Fellows determined the memo presentation agenda for the rest of the conference. This ensured that speakers were presented with information and policy recommendations that were directly related to their line of work.
We also laid out the Atlantic Action Plan, and agreed that the plan should not only be shared with champions of the Transatlantic partnership, but those who are against cooperation between the United States and the European Union. We decided that we should reach out to right wing parties and Euro-skeptics, in order to include their opinions and criticisms of the policies we are recommending. This session also solidified many of the dynamics of the group. It was a great introduction to the broad range of insights and opinions the fellows had to offer. This introductory debate highlighted some of the similarities and differences between the Americans and Germans.