The transatlantic relationship – Social Europe
The end of Donald Trump’s administration in Washington provided an opportunity to turn the page on a transatlantic relationship that had been poisoned by Trump’s personal authoritarianism and the pursuit of an “America first” policy on everything, from trade to NATO. It can also allow a closer relationship than under the previous administration of Barack Obama, who preferred to “pivot” towards the Pacific.
Following the Social Europe series supported by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation On the 2020 elections, this new series takes a look at how U.S.-European relations could and should evolve over the next few years, up to two Democratic presidential terms, through a series of questions . Often, especially from a “realistic” perspective of international relations, the relationship is conceived narrowly in terms of security, with taken-for-granted Cold War-derived assumptions as to what those terms should be.
Our new approach addresses security, yes, but from the perspective of how US and European institutions and social movements can work together to advance human security in a polycentric world, such as preventing and containing new ones. global pandemics, recognizing that the main competitors in this context are what has become a rogue state in Russia under Vladimir Putin and the party-state dictatorship in China under Xi Jinping (the two figures are now constitutionally entrenched as as life presidents). Can a new “world public opinion” form behind the universal norms of democracy, human rights and the rule of law which transformed the “black continent” of Europe into a haven of peace after 1945 , bypassing vetoes of blocking Russia and China, derived from the post-war balance of power, at the United Nations – and in the pursuit of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030?
On a related note, the series focuses on the existential challenge for humanity posed by accelerating climate change – on which, again, over the next decade dramatic action is essential, such as indicates science. The good news is that the disastrous stalemate between the United States and China at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 was replaced by the agreement led by the Europeans in Paris in 2015. It was not not enough for science and yet too much for Trump after his election the following year. But one of Biden’s first steps as president was to re-engage in the Paris agreement, and winning the race against climate catastrophe clearly depends on the highest level of transatlantic cooperative ambition, including in support of the help the developing world to take a different approach. path of the main carbon polluters.
A collaborative rather than protectionist approach to trade will also be explored. A proposed transatlantic trade and investment partnership met with considerable public opposition in Europe over trade-related intellectual property rights and private courts open to corporate complainants and was dropped anyway when Trump took office. Should this program be reopened, so as to positively protect labor and environmental standards and enable trade? And will Biden’s “Made in America” push easily adapt to that?
Another dimension includes the challenges of taxing the rent-seeking behavior of the big tech companies that are now taking over the world. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the administration wanted to reverse the “race to the bottom on corporate taxation” because of how multinational corporations can play with a corporate tax system. Nation state – on which Social Europe also directed a recent series. What kind of combination of minimum taxation and ‘digital tax’ is possible to capture some of these huge rents and how would it be coordinated between the two sides of the Atlantic, especially since this would essentially apply only to American companies?
Finally, the post-war generation in Western Europe and North America experienced hitherto unknown (internal) prosperity and peace, it is now clear, in large part thanks to a transatlantic commitment to common goals: full employment (for men) supported by Keynesian demand management, allied to insurance or tax-based welfare states, within the overall framework of the stable macroeconomic order established at Bretton Woods. This order has been steadily undone by the ‘supply’ economy treating unemployment as voluntary, replacing generous fiscal policy with strict monetary policy, and the collapse of fixed exchange rates, while the political pendulum moved from social democracy to neoliberal conservatism.
As in the interwar years, unregulated markets inexorably led to financial bubbles and a crash, the associated insecurity fostering authoritarian populism in its wake. Now that populism is once again on the decline on both sides of the Atlantic, can we rebuild a progressive political alliance? And can it cope with today’s more complex agenda, encompassing not only conventional post-war socio-economic concerns, but also cultural and political issues, particularly focusing on gender, ethnicity? and sexual orientation? The other agendas in this series should depend on it.