Frances Burwell

  • The US Should Not See Europe as a Competitor, Latvian Prime Minister Argues

    Amidst rising discord between the United States and Europe over trade, financial contributions to NATO, and the threat from Iran, US policy makers should stop viewing Europe as a competitor, but rather as a friend whose prosperity and unity helps the United States, Latvian Prime Minister Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš said on July 10.

    “The [European Union] is the United States’ most natural ally,” Kariņš said at an Atlantic Council event on July 10 in Washington. “It is a friend that you don’t have to gain…[but] it is a friend that you can lose,” he warned. “Europe without the United States and the United States without Europe are only half [powers]. Combined, [they are] the leading power in the world to protect these three fundamental [principles] that too many people take for granted: freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.”


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  • Greece Embraces the Center and Continues Course Out of Crisis

    Snap parliamentary elections in Greece on July 7 produced a victory for the political center, bucking a growing trend of populist victories across Europe. The triumph of the center-right New Democracy party and poor showing of extremist parties demonstrates that “Greece is now reinforcing the strength of the center in European politics, rather than fueling a move toward the fringes,” Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson said.


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  • EU Elections Produce Fragmentation, But Also Opportunity for Europe

    After elections to the European Parliament from May 23 to 26 saw the two main political parties in Europe lose seats to smaller Euroskeptic and pro-integration parties, European leaders must now figure out how to navigate an increasingly fractured political landscape, while also capitalizing on renewed interest in the Union underscored by the highest voter turnout since 1994.

    Despite predictions that Euroskeptic, populist, and far-right parties would potentially swamp more pro-European integration parties, the elections saw only a moderate increase in Euroskeptic representation, while the solidly pro-European Union Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and Greens-European Free Alliance (Greens) both saw double-digit seat increases. Emiliano Alessandri, a nonresident senior transatlantic fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said the result “is a turning point… Those of us who believe in a strong and united Europe should feel relieved after this election.”


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  • Europe’s Smaller Parties Win Big in European Parliament Elections

    Europe’s two major parties suffered considerable losses to smaller parties—both Euroskeptic and pro-European integration—in elections to the European Parliament from May 23 to May 26.

    While the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) remain the two largest parties in the European Parliament, both parties suffered double-digit seat losses, according to preliminary results. The big gainers of the night were the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), which benefitted from the debut of French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party, and an array of far-right Euroskeptic parties who made gains throughout Europe.


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  • A New Way Forward for Brexit?

    The UK Parliament on January 29 endorsed a provision that would empower British Prime Minister Theresa May to renegotiate her Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union in order to come up with “alternative arrangements” that could break the gridlock over the way the UK leaves the EU.

    The vote on the “Brady Amendment” was seen as a victory for May who dramatically shifted her support from her own withdrawal deal toward renegotiation in order to achieve some consensus within her Conservative Party for a passable deal.


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  • Fixing the European Union's Brexit Strategy

    It is time for the European Union to rethink its approach to the Brexit negotiations.  Unable to reach consensus, Britain is sliding toward a “no deal” scenario, which will be damaging for everyone, including the twenty-seven EU member states (EU27). The EU has every right to drive a hard bargain, and especially to preserve the essence of membership, including the “Four Freedoms” of movement for goods, capital, services, and labor. But unless the exit agreement and the future relationship are finalized together, Britain will not know its path forward, and could easily stay in political crisis until it falls off the cliff.


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  • May's Brexit Deal: With Cabinet Nod Secured, Next Stop Parliament

    British Prime Minister Theresa May said on November 14 that her Cabinet had agreed to a draft Brexit agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU). Following a five-hour meeting with her Cabinet ministers in London, May said that the decision was “a decisive step which enables us to move on and finalize the deal in the days ahead.” The deal, which must next be approved by the British Parliament, faces significant opposition both from within May’s Conservative Party and from other parties.

    "Theresa May has finally reached the first base camp on Britain’s way to exiting the EU," said Fran Burwell, a distinguished fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative.

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  • How Will the Outcome of the Midterms Affect Trump's Policy Options?

    Democrats captured the House of Representatives while Republicans strengthened their Senate majority in the US midterm elections on November 6.

    We asked our analysts what they believe are the policy implications of this outcome. Here’s what they had to say*:

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  • Angela Merkel Will Not Seek Re-Election as Germany’s Chancellor in 2021

    German chancellor to step down from party leadership in December, give up chancellorship in 2021

    Germany’s Angela Merkel, viewed by many as a staunch defender of the liberal world order and a bulwark against the rising tide of populism in Europe, has decided to step down as leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in December and not run again for the chancellorship in 2021. Merkel, who dominated European politics for the past thirteen years, has been chairwoman since 2000 and chancellor since 2005.

    “I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends,” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin on October 29.

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  • Burwell in the Hill: State Department Needs a Makeover for the Digital Age


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