The End of the Transatlantic Era?

Cohosted by Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London

The United States and European Union face many of the same challenges today: they must maintain economic growth in the face of global competition, harness and manage rapid technological change, and respond to diverse security threats. Yet a transatlantic partnership that has endured since the end of World War II now appears increasingly divided over how to respond.

The 2016 Brexit referendum and the US presidential election resulted in victories for populist campaigns that questioned the core values and institutions created by the transatlantic powers. More recent elections in Europe have bolstered centrist candidates and helped to rejuvenate the European Union. But on questions of trade, security, climate change, and relations with Russia, Europe’s leaders have frequently been at odds with the Trump administration. On these and other critical issues, an opportunity and impetus has arisen for the European Union to assume a global leadership role that many feel the US is abandoning.

Are the European Union and United States on divergent paths? How are changing geopolitical and economic realities transforming the transatlantic partnership? And how committed are Europe and America to defending the global institutions and rules they created? The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Chatham House will convene policy experts, journalists, and practitioners for a half-day symposium to chart these trends and consider their implications.

Speaker Bio


Registration and Light Breakfast

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Opening Remarks

9:00 - 9:10 a.m.

Panel 1: State of the Unions: Europe and America in an Age of Dissent

9:10 - 10:10 a.m.

Since World War II transatlantic cooperation has been built upon relationships between stable, liberal democracies governed by parties of the center-left or center-right. More recently the popularity of “America first” views in the US, the UK’s vote to leave the EU, and have swept aside many of the old certainties of transatlantic politics. Drawing on the latest polling by the Council on Global Affairs and Chatham House this session will examine the drivers of this emergent populism, as well as the recent backlash against it in Europe. Experts will also consider the implications of this new era of political volatility for EU-US relations.

Ivo H. Daalder, President, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Laura Haim, Political Journalist; Former Spokesperson for the Presidential Campaign of Emmanuel Macron
Thomas Raines, Research Fellow and Program Manager, Europe Program, Chatham House
Moderated by Stephen C. Anderson, State Department Visiting Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Coffee and networking break

10:10 - 10:30 a.m.

Panel 2: A New Transatlantic Economic Agenda

10:30 - 11:30 a.m.

As mature, developed economies, the EU and US face the same challenge of maintaining growth and competitiveness in a globalized world. In the wake of the Great Recession, governments on both side of the Atlantic have struggled to make the case for closer economic integration, yet the world’s largest and wealthiest market has continued to grow. This session will analyze how domestic political trends and global economic forces are shaping the EU-US economy, and how policymakers and businesses are responding.​

Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Director, Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission
Bryon G. Ehrhart, Global Head of Strategic Growth & Development, Aon
Leslie Griffin, Senior Vice President, International Public Policy, UPS
Randall S. Kroszner, Norman R. Bobins Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
Moderated by Shawn Donnan, World Trade Editor, Financial Times


11:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Panel 3: The End of the Transatlantic Era?

12:00 - 1:00 p.m.

The global center of power is shifting away from the Atlantic. At a moment when political forces are straining transatlantic relations from within, the institutions and international laws that the US and Europe created are today challenged on multiple fronts. This session will examine the degree to which the rise of China, Russia’s military resurgence, and the global diffusion of power by state and non-state actors are diminishing the influence of the transatlantic relationship. It will also consider the foreign policy and security implications of a weakening of the bonds between the US and EU.

Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
João Vale de Almeida, Ambassador of the European Union to the United Nations; Former Ambassador of the European Union to the United States​ 
Julie C. Smith,  Fellow and Director, Transatlantic Security Program, Center for a New American Security
Moderated by Thomas Wright, Director, Center on the United States and Europe, The Brookings Institution

Symposium Adjourns

1:00 p.m.


Background reading and multimedia:

Can NATO Survive a Donald Trump Presidency?
Simon ShusterTime, November 14, 2016

America in Retreat, Europe En Marche
Sylvie Kauffmann, New York Times, June 18, 2017

The Future of Europe: Comparing Public and Elite Attitudes
Thomas Raines, Professor Matthew Goodwin, and Professor David Cutts, Chatham House, June 20, 2017

Why A US-UK Trade Quickie Is Very Unlikely
Phil Levy, Forbes, July 9, 2017

Trump’s Trade Follies Give Brussels an Open Door
The Financial Times, September 6, 2017

Transatlantic Relations in an Era of Change
Ambassador Peter Wittig, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, September 20, 2017

The Slow Death of Europe's Social Democrats
Walter Mayr, Dietmar Pieper, Tobias Rapp, Mathieu von Rohr, Jorg Schindler, and Helene Zuber, Speigel Online, September 22, 2017

German Results Reflect European Unease Over Identity, Economy
Marcus Walker, Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2017

Germany's Angela Merkel Remains Anchor of Stability For US
Michael Knigge, Deutsche Welle, September 25, 2017

Why the Boeing-Bombardier Fight is Neither About Trump or Brexit
Shawn Donnan, Financial Times, October 2, 2017

2017 Chicago Council Survey of Public Opinion on Foreign Policy: What Americans Think About America First
Dina Smeltz, Ivo Daalder, Karl Friedhof, and Craig Kafura, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, October 2, 2017

Europe's Governments Look to Bypass Trump to Save Iran Nuclear Deal
Julian Borger, The Guardian, October 4, 2017

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