‘A Changing Europe in an Uncertain World’: CETS Conference Report

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The Center for European and Transatlantic Studies recently released its new conference report – A Changing Europe in an Uncertain World – compiled by Scott Brown and Alasdair Young, with a foreword from Ret. General Phillip Breedlove, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and current Distinguished Professor within the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs and CETS Senior Fellow.


On April 13 – 14, 2018, the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs’ Center for European and Transatlantic Studies and the Atlanta Council on International Relations organized an international conference to take stock of the European Union’s place in the world given the United Kingdom’s impending departure, the untraditional foreign policy of the Trump Administration, and the new/renewed assertiveness of China and Russia. The conference was supported by the European Union’s Erasmus+ Program (Jean Monnet Center of Excellence Award 2017-2401), the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Alasdair Young’s Ivan Allen College Distinguished Researcher Award, and the Atlanta Council on International Relations.

The conference took place during a time of uncertainty and disruption for the European Union. President Donald Trump’s administration had just announced that based on national security grounds the EU would be temporarily excluded from the aluminum and steel tariffs it imposed. The U.S., France, and the United Kingdom had struck Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack on Douma. Also, President Trump’s administration contemplated withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal (formally the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

The conference participants reached six broad conclusions:

  • Brexit will not dramatically affect the EU’s role in the world.
  • Democratic backsliding in member states threatens the EU’s soft power.
  • The transatlantic relationship is deep enough and sufficiently routinized to weather the Trump Administration and Brexit, but it will be a rough passage.
  • Russia is both spurring cooperation among the EU’s member states and fostering divisions within them.
  • China’s rise increasingly poses challenges and threats to the EU, but member states continue to focus on the economic opportunities in the relationship.
  • The liberal international order is under threat from several directions, which poses a particularly significant challenge to the EU.

Download the report: A Changing Europe in an Uncertain World 

Download other CETS working papers here.




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