The moment for Euro-Atlantic integration

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The current discussion, especially in American and European epistemic circles, about the future of transatlantic relations, may never be as important as now as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to start his new administration in Washington D.C, writes Vasile Pușcaș. [Shutterstock]

The current discussion, especially in American and European epistemic circles, about the future of transatlantic relations, may never be as important as now as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to start his new administration in Washington D.C, writes Vasile Pușcaș.

Vasile Pușcaș is professor for international relations and Jean Monnet Ad Personam Chair at the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca (Romania). He was the chief negotiator for Romania’s EU accession and Minister for European Affairs.

The severe international economic and financial crisis of a decade ago and the current economic and health crisis demonstrate that global and regional interdependencies are and will be lasting realities of the contemporary world. It is necessary to learn to manage them as efficiently as possible for the better development of the economic-social and political life at local, national, regional and global level. Indeed, interconnectivity will intensify even more with the full entry into the digital sphere of social relations.

Some politicians say we should go back to a reconstruction of transatlantic relations of where they were before the effect of the last US administration or the European Brexit crisis. We believe that today the conditions have changed compared to the realities of five or ten years ago, and tomorrow the flows of interactions will look even different. And it should be emphasised that other international actors are already working on shaping their own options to configurate their international system.

In their 2010 report on the transatlantic economy, US professors DS Hamilton and JP Quinlan argued that the evolution of the crisis justified the solution of the “deep integration” of the transatlantic economy, arguing with eight key indicators, from the Gross Product of European firms in the US and the American companies in the EU, to the characteristics of the labour market, the investment market, trade interactions, research and innovation, the service industries, etc.

In the 2020 Report, the same authors noted that both the unpredictability of recent years and the policies of Washington and Brussels have significantly affected transatlantic economic relations, but that, nevertheless, some very important economic sectors have continued the process of transatlantic integration. This is a reason for optimism and for rethinking the platform of transatlantic partnership through which the Euro-American space can reach increased convergence and competitiveness to face the future challenges of global competition.

When we talk about the Euro-Atlantic/transatlantic partnership, we do not only consider the economic and financial aspect. To participate in the management of these complex global interdependencies, a Euro-American legislative partnership could add value to the normative quality of international trade interactions, but also to other categories of relations in the international system. A Euro-American Erasmus would contribute not only to the qualitative advancement of education, but also to that of research-innovation and cultural relations in the EU, the USA and Canada.

In general, we believe that the transatlantic partnership should evolve from the concept of the Free Trade Area to a progressive integration of societies, also benefiting from the Digital Revolution and new communication technologies. In the political field as well, transatlantic convergence would have a favourable outlook, as shown by the decades-long interaction on security and defence through NATO. After all, competition through cooperation leads to a positive ending when the path of partnership for integration is followed.

Of course, these ideas express only a few thoughts about the desideratum of future transatlantic relations. Politicians and state decision-makers in the northern Western Hemisphere and the European Union will reiterate their support for the intensification of Euro-Atlantic relations after this period of successive crises. What we should demand of them, however, is more: namely, to stand in front of the citizens of the two spaces, located on both sides of the Atlantic, with a new ambitious and innovative project of interconnectivity and Euro-American interdependencies. One that would give increased chances to the management of global affairs and that could register the Euro-American space on the coordinates of the increasingly complex evolution of the international system of the 21st century.

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