Dr. Patryk Pawlak, EU Institute for Security Studies
Dr. Patryk Pawlak is a Research Fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris where he deals with EU-US relations and US domestic and foreign policies. He also deals with EU Justice and Home Affairs, with particular regard to its external dimension, border management and data protection. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the European University Institute in Florence.
Prior to joining the EUISS, Patryk was a visiting scholar at numerous research institutions, including the Center for Transatlantic Relations (Washington, DC), the Center for International Relations (Warsaw), Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University (Washington, DC) and the Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels).
Patryk has conducted extensive research in Europe, the United States, Canada and Mexico. His main research interests include a broadly-defined field of transatlantic relations, foreign policies of the European Union and the external dimension of the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs policies.
1. What are your current priorities in your work at the European Union Institute for Security Studies?
The ISS is a Paris-based EU agency responsible for research on a broad array of strategic, security, and foreign policy issues of relevance to the EU and provides a forum for debate on these issues. In this capacity, the EUISS offers analyses and forecasting to the European Union institutions. My work at the EUISS revolves around two broad themes: strengthening the EU-US partnership, and the implications of US foreign and domestic policies for the European Union. With regard to the strategic partnership, at the beginning of 2011 we launched the US Task Force which is a platform for experts in US politics, society, economy, etc. It culminates in an annual event whose objective is to reflect upon the most pertinent issues in US politics in the given year. In 2011, the focus of the Task Force is on the last ten years of EU-US homeland security cooperation. We are also preparing our annual event held in Washington DC: the EU-Washington Forum. Organized with the support of the EU institutions, the US State Department, and in cooperation with several European and American think tanks, this year’s Washington Forum will focus on the democratic wave in the Arab world and its implications for the transatlantic relationship. The Forum is divided into panels featuring high-level speakers and working sessions at the experts level and will undoubtedly offer a great opportunity to reflect on issues like transatlantic cooperation in crisis management, developments in the Middle East and the role of the EU and the US in supporting the transition process in the Arab countries. Those interested in these events can follow the updates on the EUISS website, Facebook and Twitter. In addition, we permanently monitor and evaluate developments on major global issues and trends that have a direct impact on US foreign policy and the EU-US relationship.
2. What is the greatest challenge to the transatlantic relationship today?
At the moment the biggest challenge is keeping the ‘transatlantic spirit’ alive and responding to a growing skepticism about the strength and usefulness of the EU-US relationship. With economic difficulties on both sides of the Atlantic and the growing importance of China and other BRICS countries it is increasingly argued by various commentators that EU and US foreign policy priorities are shifting. Whereas the ‘rise of the rest’ may indeed cause certain concerns in Europe and in the United States, we should not succumb to the idea that the transatlantic relationship is no longer indispensable.
The transatlantic economy remains the largest market in the world. EU-US cooperation is still essential for the provision of global security. As the recent developments in several Arab countries have demonstrated, the EU and the US maintain global leadership roles and are willing to fulfill their global responsibilities – something that the rising powers still have difficulty with. Of course, I do not mean to deny that we are witnessing shifts in the international architecture. Rather, I would like to stress that the EU and US when acting together are much stronger than when acting independently. They share similar values and world-views which in the context of growing international competition – not only in an economic sense one but also about the rules of global governance, etc. – will be of utmost importance. In responding to global challenges it is becoming increasingly important to find the most efficient way of dealing with problems, which will not always be through multilateral institutions on the global scale. Quite the contrary: some issues will need to be addressed at the regional or sub-state level, either because it is more efficient or because there is not enough political will for others to act. Therefore, what we see emerging is a network of networks spanning the whole globe and bringing together different networks of institutions, organizations and countries. How the United States and the European Union will be able to navigate within this system and benefit from the opportunity it offers will determine what international position they will hold in the future.
3. How can Europe and the United States forge a more effective partnership?
The European Union and the United States need to spend more time defining their relationship to make it more strategic and future-oriented. But the impulse needs to come from the higher levels of politics. Every US President since 1990 has contributed to the transatlantic architecture. The framework for cooperation currently in place was established in the 1990s and since then has been adapted on an ad-hoc basis. So far, we have not seen any proposal from Barack Obama. Given his problems at home and presidential elections next year, the chances that anything will be presented in the coming months are rather slim.
There is no doubt that the European Union needs to do its homework too. Despite a number of internal struggles and the ‘rise of the rest’, the EU is and will remain an important partner for the United States. However, a number of actions could further improve the EU’s standing in the United States. First, the European Union should have a clear message for the United States: alliances matter and we are willing to take our responsibilities seriously. Although this will not necessarily always be aligned with US interests, we need a transatlantic paradigm that will outline a number of basic unquestionable truths about the EU-US partnership. The interests of both sides converge on a number of issues: increasing global competitiveness and job creation, the fight against terrorism and democratic transition in the Arab world. The EU still remains the biggest consumer market in the world, with bilateral EU-US investments substantially exceeding those in China.
These efforts need to be further supported by an intense public diplomacy effort targeting the US audience, particularly opinion-makers and voters The EU’s outreach efforts in the US are still insufficient and rely mostly on traditional tools, diffusion of information and online tools. This is not enough. The EU needs to embrace new technologies in order to make its image more appealing. This means an increasing reliance on new media and more direct interaction. The EU spends substantial amount on running the EU Centers of Excellence but providing funds should be a tool and not the end in itself. European leaders need to increase their face-to-face contacts with American society, ideally reaching far beyond the East cost.
The same is valid for the US. In times where doubts about the EU-US alliance are spreading, the US needs to demonstrate that it is serious about its relationship with Europe. Like every friendship this one also needs to be taken care of. Diplomatic gestures will be welcome but not enough. The US needs to remain a European power. The US will need to make Europe feel relevant or else it is risking European disinterest. And that would not only mean the end of the transatlantic partnership but also the realization of a self-fulfilling prophecy about the end of ‘the West’.
4. What advice would you give to students and young professionals interested in pursuing a career in foreign policy and international relations?
As a young professional I can only share some advice which I think contributed to the development of my own career. First, it is important to set ambitious goals. Keeping one’s eyes on the prize has definitely helped to give a direction to my professional and personal development. Second, it pays off to gain a variety of experiences but at the same time stay focused and consistent in your projects. This might sound particularly difficult given the situation on the job market. I realize that unpaid internships and low salaries are not what young people will be satisfied with but I like to think of such activities as long-term investments. At the same time, it is important to know your own value and define the point at which unpaid jobs are not an option anymore.