The Importance of Economic Partnership in Confronting Obstacles and Opportunity

In recent months, Secretary of State John Kerry has reiterated the importance of the U.S.-EU partnership and called for a “transatlantic renaissance,” which he describes as “a new burst of energy and commitment and investment in the three roots of our strength: our economic prosperity, our shared security, and the common values that sustain us.” These three roots have been at the foundation of my work in the U.S. Mission to the EU’s economic section this summer.

Harvard Kennedy School Juster Fellow, Amy Larsen, at USEU
Harvard Kennedy School Juster Fellow, Amy Larsen, at USEU. Photo: USEU

Over the past several months, I have had the opportunity to contribute to advancing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) in several ways. One of my tasks was to develop a more nuanced understanding of Europeans’ thoughts, concerns, questions, and expectations relating to T-TIP. In thinking about how to approach this task creatively, I began by conducting a number of interviews with individuals from the business sector, EU institutions, and think tanks. I also decided to reach out to new sources that might be untapped, some of which would fall within my own demographic of young professionals, in order to add a broader perspective to the discussion.

In addition, I helped support the 6th Round of the T-TIP Negotiations held in Brussels in mid-July. Pictured below is the T-TIP Stakeholder briefing, during which stakeholders from various industry, civil society, trade organization, government, and NGO backgrounds were invited to share their questions, comments, and concerns about the T-TIP negotiations directly with Chief Negotiators Dan Mullaney (U.S.) and Ignacio Garcia Bercero (EU). These sorts of interactive briefings, along with presentations made by the stakeholder participants earlier that morning, are an integral part of the process, since at the end of the day, T-TIP is only as valuable as the positive impact it will have on citizens.

T-TIP Round 6 Stakeholder briefing held on July 16 2014 in Brussels. Photo: USEU
T-TIP Round 6 Stakeholder briefing held on July 16 2014 in Brussels. Photo: USEU

Throughout the summer, I have also been able to participate in several aspects of the formulation and implementation of sanctions against Ukrainian separatists and Russian supporters. This has similarly proved to be an invaluable learning opportunity as well as a chance to enhance an already extremely strong transatlantic partnership. These experiences have further impressed upon me the necessity of maintaining a close, yet flexible relationship with our European partners, as the importance of alliances in a world characterized by diverse and often unpredictable threats and opportunities cannot be overstated.

Of course, even the closest of partners sometimes disagree. The United States and our European allies are no different in this regard. But our differences are not so great as to challenge the “roots of our strength,” the depth of our history together, or the strength of our commitment to a secure and prosperous future for both of our peoples. With a foundation like ours combined with a “transatlantic renaissance” defined by continued energy, commitment, and investment, there are few obstacles or opportunities that our partnership will be unable to overcome.

By Amy Larsen, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Juster Fellow in USEU’s economic section.

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