Atlantic Council president and CEO Fred Kempe was interviewed by EurActiv on the impending transition in the American presidency and, especially, the implications for U.S. – European relations.  Below are some excerpts.


Obama said he wants the US and the EU to be partners, not antagonists. What can Obama learn from Europe and what can Europe learn from the US?

The U.S. can learn from Europe how better to use its massive soft power in a preventive way to spot and avoid emerging crises in places like Africa. Europe can learn from the U.S. the need to look at its responsibilities in a global manner and be less internally focused.

What are the first three priorities in transatlantic relations? On which issues can Obama expect to find European support, and where, in contrast, is conflict likely to arise?

The first priority is fixing the U.S. image in Europe, and then the other priorities become more possible. My top three are Afghanistan, because its urgent and already a transatlantic mission; climate and energy issues, because this will show the U.S. and Europe are on the same page and can lead together globally with China and India, and the global financial crisis, where only a common approach can avoid a longer and more painful recession.

Can the Europeans count on Obama’s support in reviving the Doha talks? 

If Europe isn’t willing to make some tough concessions on agriculture, I don’t know whether Obama can count on Europe either. Both sides have to lead. Russia’s resurgent use of power politics is arguably one the EU’s greatest contemporary geopolitical challenges.

Much more at EurActiv.