The Value of the Transatlantic Relationship to Main Street

GMF’s Urban and Regional Program has been exploring transatlantic cities and regions for ten years.

GMF’s Urban and Regional Program has been exploring transatlantic cities and regions for ten years. To read its full impact report, click here.

GMF established the Comparative Domestic Policy (CDP) program in 2006 to bind the United States and Europe in their shared economic, social, and environmental challenges in the domestic policy sphere. The program offered an opportunity to ignite the organization’s rich network of Marshall Memorial Fellowship alumni who are active in key leadership positions at the subnational level. Over ten years, the program evolved to have a more strategic focus on transatlantic cities and their metropolitan regions and was renamed in 2010 as the Urban and Regional Policy (URP) program.

At the conclusion of 2016, the URP program elected to take stock of its ten-year history and reflect on the evolution of the role that transatlantic cities have played in both GMF’s strategic agenda and in the broader transatlantic relationship. More importantly, we wanted to highlight the program’s impact on the people, places, and policies that have been influenced by transatlantic dialogue. From Charlotte, North Carolina to Bottrop, Germany, cities of all types can learn from each other, improving the policies and practices that directly affect the lives of their residents, while at the same time strengthening the transatlantic relationship on an often unaddressed, yet fundamental, level.

As GMF celebrates its 45th anniversary and the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, it is important to take stock of the critical value of subnational engagement in the transatlantic relationship. The values of democracy, transparency, and the liberal international order that infused in the Marshall Plan and reinforced by seven decades of transatlantic cooperation can no longer be taken for granted. In today’s complex, interconnected, and changing global environment, nation states are not only compelled to transfer elements of their sovereignty and territorial integrity to international institutions. They also need to recognize the new prominence of cities as international actors — either in cooperation or coordination with national governments or independent of them. If we ignore the forces at play at the urban level, we will further fuel social tensions, political divisions, and the continued weakening of international liberalism, global cooperation, and economic prosperity.

Cities and regions are core to solving the social, economic, and environmental challenges we face today. GMF will continue to be a vehicle for supporting transatlantic cities and regions in tackling the challenges within their borders by providing the framework of innovative ideas and a network of like-minded innovators. We will also strengthen opportunities to champion transatlantic cities and regions as key actors in global and transatlantic policy debates, lifting up innovations and showcasing why the local voice matters. URP will accomplish this by continuing to collaborate with individuals, cities, and partners in our network around key issues in the transatlantic urban agenda.