lamassoureEurope is at the crossroads.  Of course, whenever we speak about Europe or transatlantic relations, we are always at the crossroads, but it’s at a crossroad on four major issues.  The next 18 months will be decisive to know whether Europe will choose the right direction or not.

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garretmartinThe agreement signed between Kosovo and Serbia on 19th April was a stunning and major breakthrough; a significant compromise that opens the possibility of a normalization of relations for the two former belligerents and could unlock their accession path to the European Union. It was yet another vindication of the constructive and leading role played by the EU in the Balkans for over a decade, in stark contrast with the traumatic failures of the 1990s. Thus, even during the Eurozone turmoil, the EU can still remain a major diplomatic player. It was also a very sweet moment for the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, who played an instrumental role in mediating the negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade. That accord will not be easy to implement, and will face some resistance. But it could prove a game changer in the Balkans, providing new momentum to the stalling process of reform in the various countries in the region and to their road to EU accession.

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armensahakyanphotoIn today’s globalized economy, many smaller states can no longer compete in the world market on their own. The formation of economic-political blocs provides a competitive edge by combining national economies into stronger and deeper regional partnerships. For some states however, the conundrum is figuring out which bloc best serves their long-term national interests.

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brianbeary-august2011With the official nomination of President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, Michael Froman, as the next U.S. Trade Representative, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership  (TTIP)has taken a vital and important step closer to the negotiating starting gate.  Froman, a close friend and advisor of the President, has been central to the Obama Administration’s trade agenda since 2009.

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Editor’s Note:  As the European Union and the United States launch negotiations on The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,  European Affairs inaugurates a series of occasional articles that will chart the progress and assess the implications of this historic initiative.

 The interaction between the European unification process towards “an ever closer Union”2  and its most important partner, the “more perfect Union”3  of the United States of America, has been among the top foreign policy issues since the early days of the European project. bod.burghardt Equally, helping shape the evolving EU/US relationship has been at the top of my own professional agenda for more than four decades, during which I worked as a close collaborator of European Commission President Jacques Delors, as Director General in charge of External Relations and Political Director for the European Commission, with a stint as the EU Ambassador and Head of the Commission Delegation in the United States from 2000 to 2005.  The following are a few thoughts, taken from the background of my personal recollections and practical experience.

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