Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Renergizing EU Public Diplomacy vis-vis the U.S.

Submitted by Christian, aalep.eu

image (not from article) from

The visit of Mr. Pence to Brussels and the absence of press conference, replaced by brief appearances presenting statements clearly indicates that there is not much of a clear understanding about the new administration’s views of the EU except for the reality that President Trump is fixated on certain things, like trade and jobs and America’s place in the world.

At the same time President Trump does not come in with a fixed foreign-policy agenda on many issues, so there is contested space and room for influence and maneuver. President Trump is a risk-prone bargainer who seeks to extract a high price from his partners in deal making.

Europe should not be victimized by such ‘deal-making strategy’. By pointing to the risks of such an approach in terms of potential trade wars, damage to the international financial system and economic shocks for developing countries, Europe has to signal to the new administration that it is not susceptible to blackmail.

Europeans need to engage with the U.S. administration as closely as possible making their expectations vis-à-vis the U.S. administration very clear to them. Engaging and influencing is the kind of realpolitik that is necessary now. This means communicating with utmost clarity that the breach of vital European interests would bring about a major transatlantic crisis.

Europe can and should assert itself economically as well. It is helpful to remember the simple fact that Europe remains America’s most important market with huge mutual direct investments locking in the transatlantic partners’ interdependence. Even if President Trump rejects such considerations, he should think twice about how far he wants to push Europe. At a certain point, President Trump will hardly be able to accomplish his plans without strong and close partners in Europe and certainly not if he acts against Europe. Instead of waiting in fear of President Trump’s next tweet, Europeans should lay the foundations for a Europe that is strong, capable of taking action, and committed to Western values. From this position, Europeans can assert their key interests vis-à-vis the U.S. with confidence.

On and beyond the public diplomacy efforts undertaken at the EU level, I propose to establish a European Institute for Public Diplomacy (EURIP) that will advance the practice of European public diplomacy vis-à-vis the U.S. through research, consultation, publications, and professional services. EURIP will provide press center services, roundtable discussions and briefings, promotional material and serves as an information point, promotional center and an analytical service. EURIP will develop European public diplomacy initiatives in collaboration with academic and research institutions, and seek to join its forces with EU and U.S. government officials [in particular with members of the new administration who have voiced their clear support for the transatlantic partnership and continuity], members of parliament and of the U.S. Congress and their staff, practitioners in non-government organizations, and the media on both sides of the Atlantic.

EURIP will seek to set the trends in the public dimension of European diplomacy and outreach by learning the lessons from successes and failures in public diplomacy to the benefit of the European and American interests. As a non-profit organization, EURIP will not receive any financial support from any government source, but instead will seek support from foundation grants and corporate gifts.

It is my view that Europe will struggle to find a common approach to international problems with the U.S. This should lead to the recognition that it has to invest more in diplomatic resources. For the future of transatlantic cooperation much will depend on the new administration’s ability to adjust its deal-making approach to cope with the interdependent and complex challenges of today’s world. Europe has to form a single voice vis-à-vis the new administration, convincing it that multilateral cooperation is the best tool to deal with the hegemonic ambitions of rising powers and bring stability to fragile countries.

Finally, the U.S. must remain a close ally, especially to organize a framework of cooperation between NATO and the EU leading to synergies with regard to cyber threat and military capacity-building initiatives. While respecting NATO’s role and functions, the EU has to increase its value as a security policy actor. More interoperability and standardization of national armies will make NATO more effective and enable Europe to be an attractive partner in surrounding regions. A strong Europe is in U.S. interests.

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