Washington, DC – Continuing its efforts to strengthen the transatlantic relationship, IRI co-hosted a delegation of more than 30 European representatives, including many members of the European Parliament and former heads of state and government, for the 6th Annual Transatlantic Think Tank Conference in Washington, DC.
The three-day event, entitled “Facing New Threats: Towards a Transatlantic Renewal,” was attended by more than 100 participants and focused on contemporary challenges to the U.S. and Europe.
Highlighting this year’s conference was a discussion on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement. Moderated by Tomi Huhtanen, the director of the Wilfried Martens Center for European Studies, the panel featured John Bruton, the former prime minister of Ireland; Daniel Caspary, member of the European Parliament; Craig Kennedy, former president of the German Marshall Fund; and John G. Murphy, senior vice president for international policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The talk centered on the debate surrounding the proposed Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism, issues concerning protection and the general notion that the U.S. has no such thing as consumer protection. With seemingly endless hurdles, and a well-organized anti-TTIP campaign in Europe, participants discussed the agreement’s implications given the current political climate and what both sides need to do in order to make it a reality.
Of particular interest to participants was a panel focused on countering Russian aggression entitled “Getting Our Act Together: A Counter Narrative for Putin’s War.” Led by Stephen Nix, IRI’s Eurasia regional director, the panel featured Mikuláš Dzurinda, former prime minister of Slovakia and president of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies; Sandra Kalniete, member of the European Parliament and vice chair of the European People’s Party; Jeffrey Gedmin, former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; and David J. Kramer, director for human rights and democracy at the McCain Institute.
Panelists spoke about the need for a stronger vision of U.S.-EU foreign policy toward Russia and ways to fight the ever-increasing propaganda from Russia. Gedmin made a strong case for calling out Russia through Western platforms that mimic the sleek feel of outlets such as Russia Today. As Gedmin said, “Don’t spend time fighting lies about us, spend time telling the truth about them.”
Throughout the week, participants were offered the opportunity to learn from and engage with members of Congress and experts from the Pew Research Center. The group also heard from Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., a member of IRI’s Board of Directors, who spoke about his role as co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates and provided insight into American political discourse.
In the concluding session, Mikuláš Dzurinda thanked the partner organizations for a successful and informative event and expressed gratitude for their continued support of a productive transatlantic relationship.
The Transatlantic Think Tank Conference series, which began in 2010, brings together high-level think-tank representatives, experts, policymakers and other stakeholders from both sides of the Atlantic to discuss a variety of issues in transatlantic relations. With support from IRI, the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies, the Hudson Institute and the European Ideas Network, the event takes place annually, alternating between Washington, D.C. and Brussels, Belgium.