by Kristijan Fidanovski
On February 15, 2018, the BMW Center for German and European Studies hosted a discussion with Dr. Christian Ehler, Mr. Jeppe Kofod, and Ms. Marietje Schaake, three long-term Members of the European Parliament who also lead the European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the U.S. The MEPs recognized the severe challenges facing the transatlantic relationship and provided useful insight into some of the specific areas of disagreement between the transatlantic partners.
The panel began with a short introduction by Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, Director of BMW Center for German and European Studies. Anderson noted his “concern that unlike any administration in recent memory we have an administration that’s capable on a moment’s notice of doing something that would threaten the very existence of the transatlantic relationship. [Europe] would then have every reason to just walk away from this alliance.”
On the integration of the Western Balkans as an area of long-standing mutual commitment by Europe and the United States, Kofod, a Danish MEP and Vice-Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with the U.S., said: “I would like to see that they [the Trump Administration] understand the importance of the E.U. as a transformative power in many of these [the Western Balkan] countries. Europe has also neglected the Western Balkans too much, we’ve had our domestic agendas, the financial crisis.”
A recurring topic in the Q&A was climate change and the broader commitment of the U.S. to international agreements. Ehler, a German MEP and Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with the U.S., said:
“There is a growing understanding among the new generation of how integrated the world is and people are not willing to be reduced to nations.”
“It plays a role, but it’s not the predominant role in the 21st century. When the United States were dropping out of the Paris agreement, there were 194 states, municipalities and regions in the United States aligning with European regions in order to form something where they would work together in practical terms on these issues,” Ehler said.