The European Union should promote a new transatlantic partnership encompassing both North and South America. Such cooperation is necessary not only to respond to competitive challenges from countries like China and India, but also to help develop new markets in Africa and to promote strong partnerships across the South Atlantic. More important, a new transatlantic partnership is essential to protect the security of the Atlantic basin, to develop more sustainable use of energy resources, to protect the environment, to combat the drugs trade and human trafficking, and to tackle the problem of illegal immigration. The European Parliament has a unique role to play in fostering a more inclusive Atlantic community. It can help to break down traditional patterns of North-South engagement, it can build capacity in Latin American regional organizations, it can encourage leadership within the Latin American community, and it can foster democracy and civil society across the South Atlantic. Moreover, the European Parliament can help exploit the long experience of the European Union in collective decision-making, multinational democratic representation, information exchange, and shared best practice to lay the foundations for more effective cooperation at all levels of government across the Atlantic region.
The old transatlantic relationship was defined by trade, investment, and the fight against Soviet communism. The new transatlantic community is defined by the increasing penetration of China and India as economic actors, the expansion of market opportunities across the African continent, the emergence of new security threats, the challenge of sustainable energy use and environmental preservation, the scourge of organized crime including the trafficking in people and narcotics, and the plight of illegal migrants. Within this new community, the European Union, the United States and Canada are no longer the only major actors. The countries of Latin America are involved as well, both as rising powers and through an overlapping network of regional organizations. The broader community of actors in the Atlantic constitutes a challenge for collective action but also an opportunity to forge a more effective response.
This study examines the possibilities for a new transatlantic partnership that includes both the traditional powers of the North Atlantic and the rising strength of Latin America. It begins by taking stock of traditional relations, showing how the old patterns of trade and investment across the North Atlantic are beginning to give way to new realities even as traditional North-South relations along the two sides of the Atlantic seaboard give way to a growing South-South dynamic. This background is necessary to explain why change is important. A subsequent examination of the opportunities available in Africa and the competition from emerging powers like China and India explains why a change in the transatlantic relationship is inevitable.
The question is what a new transatlantic partnership could offer. This study outlines three areas where collective action between Europe, the United States, Canada, and Latin America could make a difference. The security of the Atlantic basin is one example. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or sophisticated conventional armaments is only one of many threats. The non-state actors responsible for terrorism and piracy are important as well. A strong transatlantic partnership could help to manage such threats through greater information sharing and other confidence and security building measures.
Energy and environmental sustainability are important as well. This is true particularly at a time when Brazil and the United States are unlocking vast new resources, as Venezuela looks likely to experience a political transformation, and as competition for primary commodities increases with the rise of China and India. The countries of Latin America are already focusing on this new more competitive environment. The new Alliance of the Pacific is indicative of policy innovation in this regard. A more encompassing transatlantic partnership will help to ensure that all parts of the Atlantic are involved in planning for a more sustainable future.
Organized crime and immigration are a third area of concern. These issues are important not only for their direct impact on both the sending and receiving countries, but also for the collateral damage that is wrought at all points along the way. Organized criminal networks are fuelling violent conflict in Africa, destabilizing governments in the Caribbean, and undermining both the functioning of democracy and respect for the rule of law. A more inclusive transatlantic partnership is essential to construct a system approach to such problems. It would help to normalize the flow of immigration and work to eliminate those push factors that drive people into human trafficking.
Building a more comprehensive transatlantic partnership will not be easy. The countries of Latin America have some way to go before developing the capacity to act with the same cohesion as the European Union does. Indeed, they may choose never to attain that level of integration. The countries of Latin America do not follow regional leadership either. Although Brazil has unique capacity to support collective action at the regional level, it also has significant domestic policy challenges to face Policy Department DG External Policies and little support from the countries of Central America in assuming a leadership role. Hence the European Union will need to help foster collective action within Latin America and it will need to use multiple forums for multilateral engagement. Some of these forums will be new, like the recent summit between European and Latin American leaders that was held in Santiago. Others will be existing organizations like the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank that are badly in need of reform.
This study concludes with a comprehensive strategy for action to foster this new transatlantic partnership. Many of the recommendations it makes are aspirational and normative. They call upon European leaders to treat the countries of Latin America as equal partners, to develop new international relationships that cut across old colonial patterns, to share information between more freely between police organizations and immigration authorities, to nurture contacts across civil society, and to encourage educational and cultural exchange. Such recommendations have obvious significance and yet are challenging to implement; the devil is always in the details.
There are some recommendations, however, where the European Parliament can play a leading role. Specifically, the European Parliament can work to help shape public opinion in Europe about the need to redistribute the costs of adjustment to climate change and to more sustainable energy use in all parts of the globe. These costs will be borne disproportionately by developing countries; the European Parliament will need to build political acceptance for the need to pay some of those costs. The European Parliament will need to embrace the cause of multilateral institutional reform as well. As a representative, democratic institution, the European Parliament must throw its support behind a more equitable redistribution in the voting weights at the International Monetary Fund – building, perhaps on its 2006 proposal for Europe to speak with one voice – and merit-based selection of leadership there and at the World Bank as well. Such actions are more than just symbolism. They are proof that the European Parliament sees emerging powers as equals. As such, they will help to foster belief that the Atlantic basin is one community of nations.