Challenges facing Transatlantic Relations

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Chicago (IL), le 25 avril 2012. Discours prononcé par le Consul général de France sur le thème Challenges facing the Transatlantic Relations à Loyola University.



Chicago (IL), April 25, 2012. Speech given by the Consul General of France on the theme Challenges facing the Transatlantic Relations at Loyola University.


To understand the Challenges facing the Transatlantic Relations, you need to take into account the changes in Europe and in the World.

I. The EU a smart power

Today, the EU is not just the world’s single largest market, the home to 500 million citizens speaking 23 different languages ; it is a political framework encompassing 27 countries (28 when Croatia will join next year). The integration of the economies of the European countries is not the aim but rather the vehicle to achieve stability, peace and prosperity but also to have a say on world affairs.

In other words, in joining forces, in sharing sovereignty, the European countries would be able to preserve both peace and their place on the world stage. In a recent speech, the French Primer Minister tellingly said : “we have made Europe for peace. We pursue Europe to protect our way of life, to protect our prosperity and, more importantly, no to be ousted of history”.

The Lisbon Treaty, which was signed end 2007 and entered into force on the first December 2009, has created a more integrated decision-making process. These kind of institutional evolutions are slow and may not be noticed from outside, but they clearly mean that the EU is going forward and more and more speaking with a single voice.

The EU is a smart power because it has the ability to combine both its soft and hard powers. In terms of soft power, the EU is, for example, the biggest donor of overseas development assistance (60 %). It has substantial economic resources and capabilities to influence policies abroad in order to promote peace, stability, prosperity, democracy and human rights. For example, many trade agreements have some strings attached regarding human rights and rule of law.

Beyond being an economic engine, the EU uses its soft power to promote democratic values throughout the world. Campaigning against the death penalty and torture is on the top of the European agenda, which also stands for struggle against climate change as well as decent treatment for all, including the sick and elderly. The EU is also a model of cultural and linguistic diversity (European students learn at least 2 foreign languages and there is an increasing number of study abroad programs). I do think it is a great asset to have young people with this knowledge and experience in today’s global world.

In terms of hard power, the EU has developed since 1999 a crisis management and rapid response military capability (Common Security and Defense Policy), and carried out some 24 civilian and military operations overseas, at times with the support of NATO. To that point, I would like to stress that 21 of the 27 EU Member States are also NATO members.

Through the Common Security and Defense Policy, the EU meets international security challenges by sharing civilian expertise in areas such as policing, the rule of law, and civilian administration. Similarly, “boots on the ground” military operations help secure and stabilize post-conflict areas and fragile states. In the last ten years, the EU has dispatched peacekeeping missions to several of the world’s hot spots :


- in the Balkans, where the EU assumed command of the military stabilization force in Bosnia and Herzegovina and helped preserve peace in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In 2008, the EU launched a rule of law mission called EULEX that helped Kosovo to develop an independent, multi-ethnic justice system, as well as police and customs services ;


- In Africa in early 2008, an EU military force of more than 3,000 troops was stationed in border areas of Chad and the Central African Republic. Also, the EU naval operation called Atalanta helps deter, prevent, and repress acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia ;


- In Afghanistan, the EU Police mission is an important element of the international community’s effort to support the Afghan people to take responsibility for law and order within their own country. In Iraq, the EU is helping train police and criminal justice communities, and was a major contributor to the management and funding of elections.

II. The Transatlantic Relations

Let me describe three important aspects of the transatlantic relations :

1. Working together on security issues
- Afghanistan
- Iran
- Syria
- Israel/Palestinian conflict
- Arab springs (Deauville Partnership).

Struggle against, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, development and climate change.

2. an interlinked Economy. US and EU account together for about half the entire world GDP and for nearly a third of world trade flows. The total annual trade of goods and services amounts 668 billion euro, or 1.8 billion euro per day and the mutual investment stocks reaches 2.1 trillion euro. Total US investment in the EU is three times higher than in all of Asia (40 times larger than in china) and EU investment in the US is around eight times the amount of EU investment in India and China together. Last but not least, 15 million jobs are linked to the transatlantic economy.

3. Shared values : transatlantic relations are not only based on trade and economy but are also deeply rooted in our common history, cultural heritage and robust democratic values. We share a common view of the world and of the main challenges ahead. For your generation, one of the most important one may be the integration of the emerging countries in a world order which was defined 65 years ago. The question is how to generate adequate levels of international cooperation to effectively tackle a range of shared problems and to define a new cooperative pattern for global governance. G20 is an attempt to answer that question but the transatlantic

III. The Challenges facing the Transatlantic Relation.

It is clear that the glue of the cold war has disappeared. The world peace is no more threaten by a general war but by localized crisis. We are also now living in a more complex world, where new powers are emerging (G8 four European countries, 4 also in the G20), a world in which no country or group of countries is equipped to tackle the ever-evolving security threats without input and collaboration from other members of the international community.

In this changing environment, the transatlantic relation remains more important as ever. To quote Secretary of State Clinton, let me stress the importance of the “unbreakable bond between America and Europe, a bond created by shared values and common purpose. In virtually every challenge face today, Europe is America’s partner of first resort.” And the reverse is also true. This remains the fundament of the stability in an increasingly fragile world.

The most worrying evolution is perhaps the one revealed by Transatlantic Trends. When asked about the United States’ national interests, 76 % of the Americans aged 18-24 % identified the countries of Asia, such as China, Japan, and South Korea, to be more important than the countries of the European Union. 70 % for the Americans aged 25-34. In Europe, its around 40 % who think that Asia is more important than the United States.

Time is particularly challenging for Europe but we need a stronger Europe, which means a stronger and more sustainable NATO and a more responsible and reliable partner for the US. To quote President Obama : “America can’t meet our global challenge alone nor can Europe meet them without America”.

Dernière modification : 23/10/2012

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