The continued success of the transatlantic partnership hinges on Europe’s strength and contribution to the liberal democratic order. GMF’s Europe program examines the internal and external challenges facing European states and the European Union, and how they engage with domestic politics, the broader European neighbourhood, and international issues. Today, Europe’s multiple crises are affecting all spheres of public policy and changes in the transatlantic relationship put further strain on them. As the United States’ commitment to free trade, security cooperation, and close partnership with Europe can no longer be assumed, the key question facing GMF’s Europe program is whether political trends in the US will fuel patterns of competition or cooperation in Europe, focusing on five strands.
Eurozone and transatlantic economic relations
The key underlying crisis pertains to the inability of Europe’s institutional architecture to address the regional economic disparities and social inequalities underscored by the impact of the 2008 financial crisis. Unable to move forward on the public policy choice between austerity and public investment, the Eurozone crisis has become a more intractable political one, creating a structural trend towards fragmentation. Transatlantic economic relations too are suffering the consequences of domestic politics, with consequences on global economic norms.
Brexit, Europe and the West
The British vote to leave the EU caused an existential crisis by challenging the value of European integration in itself. As the consequences of the vote develop in complex and unexpected ways, it is becoming clearer that the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the EU go beyond Europe’s stability and the future relationship between the UK and the EU but challenge the fundamental principles upon which the liberal world order was built.
Integration and disintegration and the future of Europe
Domestic politics are increasingly shaping European and international choices making the European global agenda more unpredictable. At the heart of this trend are both major changes in traditional political competition and the end of a linear European integration process. Both are challenged by changes in the Transatlantic relationship, impacting patterns of competition and cooperation in Europe, and the rise of a populist wrath which is challenging some tenets of liberal democracy.
Foreign and security policy
External events are weakening the security architecture in Europe and the Transatlantic space: Russia’s annexation of Crimea represents a systemic challenge to the foundations of global order, while the struggle to deal with the many consequences of violent disorder in the Middle East is hollowing out the European integration project. On this backdrop, the EU is inching towards developing stronger visions and policies on foreign and security policy, with a special focus on its Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods. Whether and how these developments are able to counter the fragmentation against a possible backdrop of US-driven instability is a key challenge for global order.
European actors’ responses to rising numbers of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers caused by global instability have consequences on the future of Europe and the transatlantic relationship. As an emerging policy field, cutting across domestic and foreign policy, migration policy lies at the heart of Europe’s future.