After a brief holiday lull, the year 2011 picked up where its predecessor left off, with economic and political uncertainty weighing heavily on the transatlantic partners. The United States is as polarized as it has ever been, while the European Union lurches from crisis to crisis in a state of paralysis. Against this backdrop, atlantic-community.org asked its members "What Should Top the Transatlantic Agenda in 2011?" at the end of December.
Shifting global priorities as well as domestic uncertainty are reflected in the results of our poll, which reveals a move away from the traditional hot topics of the past ten years such as Iran and Afghanistan toward new challenges and opportunities. The poll has registered 375 participants so far and received over 50 comments. According to your votes, the suggested topics which should be prioritized by the transatlantic partners in the year ahead are:
1. China: Rivalry to Partnership (44.3%)
2. The Debt Threat (41.7%)
3. Climate Change (29.9%)
4. Cyber Security (28.7%)
5. NATO and Russia (28.2%)
6. The Future of Afghanistan (27.0%)
7. Iran's Nuclear Program (25.0%)
8. The New Terrorist Hotspots (19.5%)
These options were explained in the original article which can be viewed here. Voting is still possible, but nobody can vote twice.
A breakdown of the figures shows that the two issues of China and the debt crisis were by far the leading concerns among members. Participants in the survey were asked to choose up to three areas of interest, and 4 out of 10 gave preference to these two. Following these, it was a close call between climate change, cyber security, NATO and Afghanistan. Interestingly, primarily security topics such as Iran's nuclear program and the future of Afghanistan, which are given heavy media coverage, appear lower down the list, while new terrorist hotspots (Yemen, Pakistan) were accorded last place in your preferences.
Further to the eight issues published in the survey, we have received some excellent suggestions through the comments section over the past number of weeks. One topic which arose again and again, and which shall be addressed in due course, is that of peace in the wider Middle East, incorporating not just the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but surrounding actors and how the rule of international law can best be implemented.
In addition, many more extremely interesting and relevant topics were suggested by our members including the role of drug trafficking in financing terrorism, energy security and broadening the cyber security debate to include issues of net neutrality and censorship following recent Wikileaks revelations. The issue of how to consolidate and better define the role of the transatlantic partners also came up a couple of times. We shall endeavor to cover these additional themes as well in the weeks and months ahead.
The results of the poll demonstrate that Atlantic Community is on the right path in terms of its focus and debate. Your choices confirm that the transatlantic agenda is currently made up of global issues, which neither the US nor Europe can tackle alone. We encourage you to provide us with suggestions on experts to contact for op-eds, as well as any specific topics you would like to see covered. In the face of global challenges, the demand for transatlantic cooperation becomes even greater.
Written on behalf of the editorial team by Eoin Michael Heaney. Eoin is a recent graduate of the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and University College Dublin.