A New EU-US Agenda for Global Change



European Commission


The relationship between the European Union and the United States is unique and built on shared history, shared values and shared interests. The transatlantic partnership was born of a promise of collective peace, progress and prosperity. After the Second World War, the Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe’s communities and economies. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) ensured our collective security. Together, Europe and the US helped design and build the multilateral rules-based system to tackle global challenges. For people on both sides of the Atlantic, transatlantic ties are a vital element in our societies, identities, economies and personal lives.

Today, our combined global power and influence remains unrivalled. We are home to nearly a billion people and are the two largest blocs of advanced democracies. We account for about a third of the world’s GDP and trade, and 60% of foreign direct investment. The density and openness of transatlantic trade and investment creates millions of jobs and shapes large parts of the global economy. We have the reach to set regulations and standards that are replicated across the world. We are the primary drivers of innovation and the world’s research powerhouses, developing technology from 5G to vaccines.

This combined power and influence is indispensable to anchor global cooperation in the 21st century – whether it be on health, security, climate, trade and technology, or on the multilateral rules-based order. Our joint commitment is essential in a world where authoritarian powers seek to subvert democracies, aggressive actors try to destabilise regions and institutions, and closed economies exploit the openness our own societies depend on.

Just as this need for cooperation has become all the more important, so has the transatlantic partnership become in need of maintenance and renewal. In recent years, our relationship was tested by geopolitical power shifts, bilateral tensions and retreats to unilateral policies.

With a change of administration in the US, a more assertive Europe and the need to design a post-corona world, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design a new transatlantic agenda for global cooperation – based on our common values, interests and global influence. This should be the linchpin of a new global alliance of like-minded partners. This comes at a time when there is a commonality of outlook and priorities on domestic and international agendas between the incoming US administration and the European Union.

As we set about defining this new agenda, we should not embark on a nostalgic search for the global order of past decades or the transatlantic partnership of past generations. The US and the EU have changed, as have power dynamics and geopolitical and technological realities.

We should also not fall into the trap of false debates that seek to oppose a stronger Europe and a stronger transatlantic partnership. A united, capable and self-reliant EU is good for Europe, good for the transatlantic partnership and good for the multilateral system – they are mutually reinforcing not mutually exclusive.

It is in this spirit that the EU is putting forward a proposal for a new, forward-looking transatlantic agenda for global cooperation, centred on areas where our interests converge, our collective leverage can best be used and where global leadership is required.


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