Atlantic Community members are in agreement that adjustments will have to occur on both sides of the Atlantic: the United States needs to accept the post-unipolar world order and embrace multilateralism, while Europe needs to finally develop a proactive foreign policy profile. One potentially catastrophic issue - climate change - has to be tackled immediately.
1. Ignore EU bashing and rethink anti-Americanism.
Barack Obama's pledge to re-engage allies is a welcome departure from the unilateralism of the Bush administration. To that end, an excellent starting point would be a concerted effort at public diplomacy (Leonie Holthaus) following the transatlantic nadir of "freedom fries" diplomacy. Although anti-Europeanism in America exists, Europeans have to recognize that it is used as a symbolic issue and is localized to the right (Andrew Hammel). On the other hand anti-Americanism appears to be entrenched in European elites - a standard which must be mitigated for productive relations to be restored (Marek Swiercynski).
2. The US must come to terms with its post-unipolar moment.
In order to overcome the challenges of the 21st century and successfully work with Europe toward that end, the US must first embrace the realities of a multipolar international order. Currently, only Europe can provide the US with the legitimacy it desperately craves, and only America can fulfill the "strategic actor" role Europe longs to occupy (Eckart von Klaeden). An historic US capacity for self-criticism (Francisco J. Ruiz), coupled with a far more amenable new administration, will hopefully facilitate such a break and provide the framework for a renewed, cooperative, and fruitful rapprochement of transatlantic relations.
3. Europe needs a proactive foreign policy approach.
Any disdain Europe may still harbor toward the US due to the invasion of Iraq must not manifest in the form of an obdurate position with regard to stabilizing Afghanistan (Patrick Edwin Moran). To help America with its international "headache" (John Hadjisky) and expedite the transition to a truly multilateral world, it is critical for Europe to develop a singular foreign policy posture (Ruiz) and ratify the Lisbon Treaty or its successor (Adam K. Svensson). A militarily relevant Europe would benefit the US (Ruiz), but only if utilized as an operative for peace (Svensson). Other members feel that military might no longer constitutes the "core element of political power" (Thomas Bauer) and, thus, call for greater soft power initiatives. Given an almost pan-European reluctance to contribute caveat-free combat troops to NATO missions, Europe can bolster the relationship by enhancing development aid (Ari Rusila) and taking the lead in post-war reconstruction projects (Christia Flourentzou). A majority of members therefore agree with the Atlantik-Brücke's recommendation that the US and Europe must develop more comprehensive approaches, integrating "humanitarian operations and civilian capabilities," to effectively resolve conflicts.
4. Take immediate action toward combating climate change.
While a global agreement to limit carbon emissions is imperative (Rob Steer), EU leadership could flounder on that front once Vaclav Klaus chairs the EU Presidency in January. When coupled with the economic downturn, we should not expect to see the EU maintain its "vanguard role in climate protection" (Petra M. Gramer). Therefore, determined US leadership prior to the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 is exigent. Still, skepticism exists as to whether President Obama can manage to include China and India in a binding agreement to a Kyoto successor (Daniel Korski) and Moran impugns whether the underlying currents of globalization preclude the effective combat of climate change while simultaneously accommodating a growing scarcity of natural resources.
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Written by Jesse Schwartz