French National Assembly Partners with the GMF Paris Office for Symposium on Transatlantic Relations
On February 21st, the French National Assembly organized in partnership with the GMF Paris office, a parliamentary symposium on “Transatlantic Relations in Times of Crisis — Perspectives of the Second Obama Administration.”
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer was invited to discuss the diplomatic and geopolitical aspects of transatlantic relations, along with high-level officials, corporates and experts from France and the United States such as Hubert Védrine, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paul Jean-Ortiz, Diplomatic Advisor of the President of the French Republic François Hollande, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, former French Prime Minister, Marwan Lahoud, President of EADS-France, Pierre Vimont, Executive Secretary General of the EEAS, and Mark Taplin, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S Embassy in Paris. The panel was moderated by Elisabeth Guigou, President of the Commission of Foreign Affairs at the French National Assembly, and introduced by U.S. Ambassador to France Charles H. Rivkin.
Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer gave a presentation of the challenges and opportunities that are faced by the transatlantic partners in the coming decade, and addressed more specifically the implications for Europe of the U.S. rebalancing towards Asia. She argued that while today’s U.S.-Europe relations are characterized by the proximity of transatlantic interests and values, European and American internal issues are likely to constitute the second Obama administration‘s main concerns. These concerns will have to be dealt with in parallel to complex international challenges that demand more transatlantic cooperation. Alexandra highlighted the different time frames in which these issues are articulated, showing the need for a comprehensive transatlantic agenda that sets the geopolitical priorities, from short-terms issues such as nuclear Iran to middle and long-term evolutions such as the energetic transition and the security implications of climate change. Finally, Alexandra discussed the European perceptions of the U.S. rebalancing towards Asia, and the confusion the word ‘pivot’ may have yielded in transatlantic relations, insisting on the U.S. willingness to remain involved in European security and to not withdraw from this special partnership.
Each panelist shared a positive view of the future of transatlantic relations, and of the challenges that must be addressed in order to improve their strategic dimension. Hubert Védrine pointed out that the U.S. rebalancing constitutes an outstanding opportunity for Europeans to gain more responsibilities within NATO and to emerge as more active actors of their security and of the stability of the neighboring regions. This viewpoint was shared by Pierre Vimont, who used the Malian crisis as a potential model for a future transatlantic approach to conflicts, with an efficient division of labor between Europeans and Americans. Paul Jean-Ortiz was more prudent regarding Europe’s ability to design a single comprehensive strategy and therefore to emerge as a credible partner for the United States in the managing of the international agenda. Yet, the possibility of a positive dynamic was also underlined by Mark Taplin, as he considered that the new Obama administration will enjoy more political freedom to adapt the U.S foreign policy to more multilateralism and more dialogue between allies. The panelists also discussed the need for more transatlantic cooperation on cyber-security, as Marwan Lahoud shared his experience in the industrial sector to highlight the seriousness of this threat for both U.S. and EU economies. Finally, they brought to the attention of the audience the promising implications of a transatlantic free-trade agreement, considered by all as one of the great hopes for the future of transatlantic relations.
The symposium was attended by more than 200 officials, journalists, experts and corporate representatives, and will more specifically frame future reflections on transatlantic relations in the French National Assembly and French Ministries.