2020 is the first year of delivery for the EU’s climate ambitions. The European Commission has set itself a goal to tackle climate change with unprecedented urgency and ambition through its European Green Deal plan, at the heart of which is the objective to make the EU climate neutral by 2050. Yet as the EU produces only about 9% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, it is absolutely vital that these ambitions have a strong external element to them as well. The transition must thus be built upon realistic targets and pragmatic diplomatic approach to credibly project the EU’s normative power.
Water is the basis of life. The access, possession and control of water therefore mean power, make it a potential source of conflict. But the hypothesis that as nations run of out of water they may go to war is one-dimensional and linear. It underestimates other factors including how nations operate, what motivates war and the actual cost of war.
Shared water resources i.e. the approximately 276 water bodies, lakes and rivers shared by some 148 countries around the world, are generally seen as issues of potential conflict. Empirical evidence reveals, however, there have been more instances of cooperation than conflict over shared water resources in the past decades. On occasion countries have used their shared water resources to forge ties often leading to cooperation in other spheres as well.
Ours is a time when even the most Atlanticist countries talk about Europe’s need for strategic autonomy, and when some of its leaders are realizing that “the times when we could fully rely on others are to some extent over,” to use Angela Merkel’s words. So readers may have been surprised when they saw France’s president praise his relationship with his US counterpart, especially with this US president, who was instrumental at convincing Merkel that “we have to fight for our own future ourselves.”
But if Emmanuel Macron is taking great care of his personal relationship with Donald Trump, it does not mean that he dismisses France’s traditional pursuit of independence. Since his election, Macron has been rather consistent with his campaign references to De Gaulle. Beyond the displays of “bromance,” Macron had several occasions in Washington to make his differences clear, and he seized them.
The crises facing the transatlantic community are more profound that many citizens on either side of the Atlantic realize. A host of challenges, including migration, terrorism, low and uneven growth, high youth unemployment, significant debt, Russian disinformation campaigns, Brexit and the euro crisis, continue to erode domestic politics, economies, and security policies. While we should be proud of the many transatlantic institutions and initiatives that we’ve forged together over the past 70 years, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must engage in candid conversations about what is working – and what is not – and focus our attention on revitalizing the transatlantic community to more effectively tackle global challenges.