On December 7, 2010, The Honorable Maroš Šefcovic, Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for Inter-Institutional Relations and Administration offered his assessment of the transformative changes in the European Union’s governance since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force and outlined the key challenges that lie ahead in the EU’s quest for an "ever-closer union."

On November 17, 2010, the European Institute hosted a luncheon meeting of the European-American Policy Forum in cooperation with Notre Europe, a Paris-based think tank devoted to European integration. The Honorable Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, President of Notre Europe and former Minister of Economy and Finance of Italy, presented Notre Europe’s recently released report, Reshaping EU-U.S. Relations. Informed by a task force of high-ranking former European statesmen and ministers, the report seeks to redefine the EU-U.S. relationship in the face of a rapidly evolving international context, fuelled by globalization. Many contemporary global issues, such as climate change and economic governance, can no longer be addressed on a unilateral or bilateral basis. Indeed, the Euro-American relationship should become a platform for forging global partnerships, rather than a means of asserting Western leadership. For both the EU and the United States, this new paradigm will mean working together in support of multilateralism as the basis for international negotiations, and promoting shared sovereignty in the management of global issues.

On November 16, 2010, the European Institute held a special breakfast meeting of the European-American Policy Forum with The Honorable Valdis Birkavs, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Latvia. Mr. Birkavs and Søren Gade, Former Minister of Defense of Denmark, co-chaired the recently released Nordic-Baltic 8 (NB8) Wise Men Report, which lays out detailed proposals to further cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries. Stressing the geopolitical significance of the NB8 partnership, Mr. Birkavs urged greater cooperation on foreign and security policy, and called for the NB8 to achieve greater cooperation with the U.S and Russia, within the context of NATO, and on such other areas of strategic importance as energy security and sustainable economic growth.  Following Mr. Birkavs’ remarks, Pamela Quanrud, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Karin Olofsdotter, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Sweden, and Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, offered their own perspectives on NB8 cooperation.

On November 9, 2010, Jean-Arthur Régibeau, Political Director of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offered his perspective on the emergence of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and its impact on the transatlantic relationship. Under Belgium’s rotating Presidency of the European Union, implementation of the Lisbon Treaty has been a top priority, and the steady evolution of the EEAS is a notable accomplishment. High Representative Catherine Ashton has selected her senior management team, which will lead the formation of a European diplomatic corps; a process which Mr. Régibeau estimated will take three to four years. Members of the EEAS will consist of highly-qualified officials from all of the EU institutions and Member States, and it will aim to have a fair representation of men and women, as well as diplomats from each Member State. They will report directly to the High Representative; a line of command that Mr. Régibeau argued will provide a unifying element and allow the service to be more than the sum of its parts. However, he cautioned, the commensurate evolution of a common European foreign policy may take as long as a decade. In time, however, the EEAS and its mpact on the EU’s foreign policy may eventually be comparable to that of the European Monetary Union.

By Brian Beary in Washington | 22 October 2010

The EU’s drive to get all 27 member states included on the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) has run up against a wall. The view of multiple sources closely monitoring the dossier is that the US Congress will have to pass new legislation before Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania will have any chance of joining the other EU23. Though some on Capitol Hill are sympathetic to their cause, nothing is likely to happen until 2011 at the earliest. Even if Congress changes the rules to make it easier for the EU4 to enter, they still need to be invited to join by the US administration and there is little indication that the Obama administration is interested in expanding the programme.

Read More

On September 30, 2010, The European Institute held its Annual Meeting of the Members and Board of Advisors at the Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.  Discussions focused on U.S. and European efforts to enact comprehensive financial regulatory measures, strengthen economic governance and spur sustainable economic growth. Moderated by Timothy Keeler, Counsel at Mayer Brown LLP, the expert panel included Mark Sobel, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Antonio de Lecea, Minister - Principal Advisor for Economic and Financial Affairs at the Delegation of the European Union; Matthias Sonn, Minister of Economics and Science at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany; and Jeffrey Skeer, International Relations Specialist in the Office of Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The panel was followed by a dinner and a lively discussion with David Mark, Senior Editor at Politico and Politico.com, about the U.S. Mid-Term Elections and their Potential Implications.