The transatlantic economic relationship, defined by mutual investment and international cooperation, is fundamental to the well-being of citizens on both sides of the Atlantic, David O’Sullivan, the European Union’s ambassador to the United States, said in a Facebook Live discussion on December 6.

O’Sullivan joined Anthony Gardner, the US ambassador to the European Union (EU), to discuss the importance of free trade and mutual investment across the Atlantic, as well as address the challenges facing continued economic interaction between the United States and Europe. They were interviewed by Marie Kasperek, associate director in the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program.

O’Sullivan emphasized the need to make the transatlantic relationship, particularly the benefits of free trade and globalization, relevant and accessible to populations who no longer understand the significance of the system.

“The transatlantic corridor is the most important economic corridor in the world,” said O’Sullivan, emphasizing the mutual dependence of businesses in both regions. “There’s a huge amount of economic activity going on on a daily basis, bringing benefits to our two societies,” he added. Gardner described how governments as well have helped to advance the transatlantic partnership.

Gardner cited the rise in populism in both Europe and the United States as the single greatest challenge to transatlantic cooperation and economic governance. He said, “we have a joint challenge here to explain better what we’re doing.” O’Sullivan added: “We really do need to remind people how fundamental this relationship is… We need to reinvent the relationship for a new generation.” 

Rachel Ansley is an editorial assistant at the Atlantic Council.