Transatlantic Security Task Force: Potential disruptors of the Transatlantic Security, Turning threats into Opportunities for Security Cooperation
On July 10th and 11th, the Paris Office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States organized, with the generous support of Airbus Group and in partnership with the Embassy of Canada in France, the second working session of the 2014 Transatlantic Security Task Force. The event brought together, at the George Marshall Center, 29 participants from both sides of the Atlantic, hailing from academia, government and the corporate sector.
On July 10th, the keynote speech of the opening dinner was given by Mr. Jacques Audibert, senior diplomatic advisor and Sherpa G7/G8 of the President of the French Republic. His keynote speech focused on current diplomatic and military French engagement in international crises, as well as on the emergence of new security issues in the European neighborhood providing new opportunities and challenges to transatlantic cooperation. Mr. Audibert’s introductory remarks were followed by an open debate with the participants, addressing, among other issues, U.S. and European relations with Russia, the respective roles of France and Germany in the transatlantic relations, and the future of NATO.
The working session of July 11th was organized around three sessions, featuring a panel of speakers and a discussion with the other participants; and a concluding session moderated by Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, which aimed at highlighting the main points of the discussion and translating them into concrete recommendations:
Session I – Is the Energy Gap the Ultimate Stress Test for Transatlantic Security Cooperation?
Session II – The Use of New Technology in Security and Defense: The Need for Renewed Transatlantic Trust
Session III – Periphery as the New King: How Should Transatlantic Partners Engage with Mid-Powers?
The first session focused mainly on European dependency toward Russian gas and Russian dependency to exports toward the E.U., the impact of the current crisis in Ukraine and the shale revolution in the U.S. Participants discussed possibilities of overcoming Europe’s energy dependency, such as repealing the U.S. Legislative ban on exports of gas, the diversification of Europe’s sources of import, especially by developing a partnership in Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan, all of which should decrease the dependency on Russian gas and, therefore decrease Russia’s ability to use its energy exports as a political weapon.
The second working session was centered around the challenges for Western powers in keeping the technological edge in a world where defense budgets are declining and technology is increasingly easy to obtain; to what extent technology can be a substitute for other military means; and the ways in which new forms of technology, such as cyber and drones, have redefined warfare.
The third working session revolved around the questions of the crisis in Ukraine, and the implications this event has on transatlantic security calculations. The participants discussed the ways in which the transatlantic powers should handle the situation and how revisionist powers can and should be contained. The question of each transatlantic partner's responsibility, and how the partners should organize itself to project a strong, united front, were also a central part of the discussion.
In the final session, the participants were divided into four groups, with each being asked to develop a series of short, prospective analysis based on the discussions of the working sessions, and a set of concrete recommendations for the future of transatlantic security cooperation. Each group selected a rapporteur who presented the conclusions of the group at after the small discussions. Enhanced EU-NATO cooperation, increasing awareness about access to energy and other essential goods in the transatlantic alliance, and strengthening of market and economic cooperation were among the recommendations made.