GMF's Moment: Making the Case for Transatlantic Cooperation in an Increasingly Isolationist World
Over the course of the past year, several events have tested the resilience of longstanding transatlantic relationships. In the annual State of the Transatlantic Relations call—exclusive to GMF's Alumni Leadership Council members, The German Marshall Fund's President Karen Donfried provides an executive summary of contemporary transatlantic priorities and focuses on trends that are shaping the future of transatlantic relations. In her words, "This is GMF's moment."
Listen to the call:
Below are the call's key takeaways. Listen to the full recording for more details of this "honest and candid conversation.”
- There is a general sense of disintegration within the European cooperative framework. The state of transatlantic relationships is complicated, and the United States is seen by many as a disruptive force within these relationships.
- The French election captured the opposite of these trends. With Marine Le Pen coming within less than 3% of Emmanuel Macron (MMF ’06) in the first round, Macron now has to prove that the elements of liberal democracy and sharing of sovereignty work.
- At the ceremony of the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, said, “Europe as a political entity will either be united, or will not be at all. Only a united Europe can be a sovereign Europe.”
- Wilbur Ross, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, has expressed interest in reviving talks on a free-trade agreement between the United States and European Union.
- While Theresa May signaled in her article 50 letter that the United Kingdom wants to maintain “a deep and special partnership” with the European Union at the conclusion of exit negotiations, the country’s unity is threatened at home with calls for another referendum on Scottish independence.
- Turkey’s drift towards authoritarianism and away from the West is deeply concerning. A strong Turkey is a strong democracy. Strengthening transatlantic cooperation in the spirit of the Marshall Plan is something GMF interprets to mean in the spirit of liberal democracy, i.e. a system of democracy that protects minority rights and has constitutional guarantees and checks and balances.
- Despite some national differences, there are broader political trends affecting Europe. Pay close attention to the populist Five Star Movement in the next Italian general election. The upcoming German federal election is not too concerning; Karen predicts the next chancellor will either remain the Christian Democratic Union’s Angela Merkel or be the Social Democratic Party’s Martin Schulz.
- The rise of populism in Europe cannot merely be explained by income inequality.
- The challenge of hybrid warfare and cyber hacking of military, political, and economic targets is here to stay.
- Donald Trump’s ambitious GDP growth rate targets are unlikely to be met, and this could have serious implications for relationships with U.S. allies.
- Soft power is incredibly important, but planned budget cuts and unprecedented understaffing in the U.S. Department of State will inhibit U.S. diplomatic affairs around the world.
- We are now facing the same challenges faced by Harry Truman in 1947 when he set out to make a case for the Marshall Plan following WWII. Today, we have to show why liberal democracy and transatlantic cooperation work using contemporary examples. We can no longer take transatlantic cooperation for granted. GMF has to bolster its subnational agenda, and this starts with the help of the Alumni Leadership Council.
The annual State of the Transatlantic Relations call with The German Marshall Fund's President Karen Donfried is exclusive to GMF's Alumni Leadership Council members. It provides an executive summary of contemporary transatlantic priorities and focuses on trends that are shaping the future of transatlantic relations. Members of the Council have the unique opportunity to ask questions and the presentation covers a broad range of issues that impact leadership decisions across sectors. This year, the call coincides with the first 100 days of the new United States administration, but every other year except when there is a new administration in Washington, DC, it coincides with the State of the Union address.
Access to GMF's Alumni Leadership Council is exclusive to alumni of GMF's transatlantic leadership development programs, including Marshall Memorial Fellowship, Manfred Wörner Seminar, Transatlantic Inclusion Leaders Network, Asmus Policy Entrepreneurs Fellowship, APSA Congressional Fellowship, and New Länder Fellowship.