A Trans-Atlantic Transition

AUSTIN – Despite many calls for a “new Atlanticism” or a “new transatlantic bargain,” the US-European relationship remains imprisoned by old habits. After all, it is an inescapable reality that almost all of today’s great challenges lie outside the traditional NATO relationship, and many are in areas where US and European views have long diverged.

A meeting of minds on every global issue is too much to ask of both the US and Europe, but on many issues strategic convergence seems both possible and necessary. These include management of the global financial and trading system, addressing energy security and climate change, and re-fashioning existing international institutions to address these problems.

Perhaps it has taken the global economic crisis to compel Americans and Europeans to revitalize their cooperation. With the International Monetary Fund sidelined at the start, the Europeans, led by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, called for a summit meeting of the G-20 to consider a new international financial architecture, bypassing not only the Fund, but the G-7 as well.

This initiative, and the three G-20 summits that have followed, mark a promising start. With European and US leadership, several measures were undertaken to strengthen financial oversight and monitoring via the IMF and a Financial Stability Board that replaces the old Financial Stability Forum. The G-20 leaders also agreed to recapitalize the IMF and regional development banks via an impressive $1.1 trillion package of measures to assist the poorest countries.