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New Transatlantic Policy Center Evaluates Europe’s Key Challenges

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European Union flag and US flag merged together.

From the uncertainty regarding Brexit to French president Emmanuel Macron’s proclamation of NATO’s “brain death,” the long-standing partnership between Europe and the United States is often making headlines. The new Transatlantic Policy Center, an EU Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence housed at the School of International Service (SIS), will bring experts together to evaluate key policy issues regarding the transatlantic relationship between Europe and the US.

We spoke with the center’s co-directors, SIS professors Michelle Egan and Garret Martin, about the center’s research areas and activities as well as the continued importance of the transatlantic relationship.

A Thematic Approach

The center aims to provide a “long-term and comprehensive understanding” of four main themes: trade and regulations, security and technology, democracy and the rule of law, and immigration and integration.

Egan explains that these four themes were chosen because of their domestic and global salience, noting the importance of addressing them comparatively: “Sometimes, we study the United States not as exceptional but as separate. We hope to place the challenges, the contestation, the issues the United States faces, in a more global and more comparative context.”

The center’s experts will evaluate the four challenges through its research and activities, including a high-profile speaker series, numerous workshops and policy debates, and scholarships and an expanded curriculum for students interested in Europe and transatlantic relations.

University-Wide Collaboration

As the only EU Center of Excellence in Washington, DC, the Transatlantic Policy Center serves as a venue for Europe-and-EU-related events, expertise, and debates on transatlantic relations. Experts from SIS, the School of Public Affairs (SPA), the Kogod School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), and the Washington College of Law (WCL) will draw on different methodologies to further interdisciplinary research on the EU, Europe, and Transatlantic ties.

Martin hopes that the center will encourage and facilitate greater collaboration between AU’s experts on Europe: “We have a lot of great talent and expertise on Europe and the transatlantic space across campus, but we’re too often siloed and separated. One of the goals of the center is to bring together all the faculty who work on Europe and transatlantic relations—across schools, across disciplines.”

The Enduring Transatlantic Relationship

During a challenging period for Europe, the Transatlantic Policy Center will provide a renewed focus on the transatlantic relationship. The center has already evaluated the current state of the relationship in several events on and off campus.

As part of its launch, the Transatlantic Policy Center organized a panel discussion on transatlantic bridge building at the Embassy of the Republic of Finland, including European Union ambassador to the US Stavros Lambrinidis and Finnish ambassador to the US Kirsti Kauppi. Martin recently moderated a panel on NATO’s continued importance and military purpose at SIS, and in October, SPA professor Kimberly Cowell-Meyers brought together various experts from across AU for a Brexit symposium cosponsored by the Transatlantic Policy Center. In February, Egan will moderate a conversation at SIS with Daniel Mulhall, the Irish ambassador to the US.

“Lately, we’ve had the transatlantic partnership—whether in the realm of trade or security—being questioned. For many years, this close partnership was taken as axiomatic or as a granted fact of international affairs,” says Martin. “At a time when these fundamental points are being questioned, it’s important to better understand the transatlantic relationship and put a spotlight on it.”

Continued Excellence in EU-US Relations

According to Ambassador Lambrinidis, the Transatlantic Policy Center’s launch marks the next chapter in a continued partnership between SIS and the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

"We are very pleased to have a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on EU affairs in Washington, DC, once again,” says Lambrinidis. “We will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration—the founding moment of today's European Union—in May 2020, and having this Centre in the US capital is a strong message on the enduring strength of the transatlantic partnership. Jean Monnet lived in the city during the Second World War, and some of the ideas that he came up with here on post-war Europe later materialized in the Schuman Declaration.”

“Beyond this powerful symbolic aspect, this EU grant is a recognition of the excellence in EU-US relations, which the American University's School of International Service has developed over recent years. AU SIS was the winner of our inaugural foreign policy student challenge for undergraduate students in the US called the ‘Schuman Challenge’ back in 2017, and we have worked on many other projects together. We look forward to our continued partnership."