Adapting the US-EU Summit for a Globalized World

US-EU Flags

As President Obama prepares to meet with European leaders for the first U.S.-EU Summit since the enactment of the Lisbon Treaty, the Atlantic Council and the Bertelsmann Foundation have prepared a joint strategy arguing that such meetings can only advance policies of interest to Washington and Brussels if the gatherings are restructured and less exclusive.

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The brief, written by Atlantic Council Vice President Fran Burwell and Bertelsmann Foundation Executive Director Annette Heuser, provides an overview of the U.S.-EU policy relationship, identifies the challenges to deepened transatlantic cooperation, and offers recommendations for reaffirming the transatlantic alliance.

Some challenges that have marred the summit in recent years include:

  • Different political timetables in the U.S. and EU
  • Poor U.S. understanding of the EU institutions
  • Empty mechanisms and lack of follow-up
  • Insufficient integration of legislators

The report’s authors recommend concrete steps to overcome these challenges:

  • Convince EU member-states to grant EU leaders a broad negotiating mandate
  • Set deadlines for agreements negotiated on the working level
  • Use the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) and the Energy Council meetings to establish clear goals and priorities for the summits
  • Integrate Congress and the European Parliament as full participants

Long-term issues that should remain on the agendas of future summits include:

  • Creating a “One-Million-Job Compact”, an agreement to spur employment on both sides of the Atlantic through increased trade and additional transatlantic direct investment
  • Restructuring coordination on energy efficiency and sustainability to account for political concerns and constraints in the U.S. and Europe

Frances G. Burwell is Vice President, Director of the Program on Transatlantic Relations at the Atlantic Council. Her areas of expertise include U.S.-EU relations and the development of the European Union’s foreign and defense policies, and a range of transatlantic economic and political issues.

Annette Heuser is Executive Director of the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC. She has more than a decade of experience in transatlantic security and economic policy, global governance and global philanthropy.

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