Cambridge, MA – Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs today announced the launch of the Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship, an effort to help reinvigorate a continental bond that has anchored global order, provided peace and stability, and fueled economic expansion for seven decades.

At a time of questions about Europe’s unity, security, and prosperity—and about the commitment of the United States to its relationship with NATO and the European Union—the Project will provide policy-relevant insights for today and dedicated training to prepare the next generation of transatlantic leaders for tomorrow.

“We are initiating this Project to expand the Kennedy School’s teaching and research on Europe and the Transatlantic relationship,” said Nicholas Burns, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and to Greece, and the Roy and Barbara Goodman Family Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School. “Europe is vital to the U.S. as our leading trade partner, leading investor into the American economy, and leading number of American treaty allies globally in NATO, our premier military alliance.” Burns is leading the Project as Faculty Chair, together with Executive Director Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook.

“The transatlantic relationship has been a bedrock of global security since World War II,” said Ash Carter, former Secretary of Defense and current Director of the Belfer Center. “We are committed to strengthening this relationship as part of our mission to build a more secure, peaceful world.”

The Project, which launches the same week Washington welcomes France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, will focus its teaching and research on four core areas: Strengthening Western Democracies; Diplomacy; Security Policy; and Economics and Trade. Its programming will empower students to serve in critical fields that strengthen the transatlantic relationship, including not only diplomacy, security, and development efforts, but also labor relations, trade, energy, cyber, and technology policy.

The Project’s geographic focus also includes Russia, Ukraine, and the other states of the former Soviet Union. It seeks to help build the school’s research on the foreign and defense policy of Russia and these states.

The launch kicks off with a series of events today, including a JFK Jr. Forum featuring the Ambassador of the European Union to the United States, David O’Sullivan; the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United States, Peter Wittig; the Ambassador of Spain to the United States, Pedro Morenés; and Julianne Smith, Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for New American Security. Burns is moderating the Forum, with opening remarks by HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf.

Throughout the month of April, the Project hosted Lord Peter Ricketts, former National Security Advisor of the United Kingdom; Radosław Sikorski, former Foreign Minister and Defense Minister of the Republic of Poland as fellows and Victoria Nuland, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and Anne Applebaum, author, historian and Washington Post columnist as speakers to discuss the critical challenges to the EU-U.S. relationship and the integrity of Western democracies. In February, it hosted former Chief of British Intelligence Sir John Sawers.

The Project has outlined an ambitious agenda over the coming year:

  • Raising funds to establish a permanent faculty position dedicated to European studies.
  • Creating a new study on the future of NATO led by Nicholas Burns and Doug Lute, both former U.S. Ambassadors to NATO.
  • Bringing world-renowned academics and practitioners to campus as fellows.
  • Hosting the annual Pierre Keller Visiting Professorship on Europe.
  • Convening an annual Transatlantic Conference in Spain this July with the Spanish
    IE School of International Relations and with support from the Rafael del Pino Foundation
  • Organizing an international conference series on the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles in collaboration with the American University in Paris.

“Thanks to the generous support of Pierre Keller of Geneva, a Program on Transatlantic Relations was created in 2005 at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs,” said Karl Kaiser, a Senior Associate at the Project. “Its move to and relaunch at the Kennedy School will in a major way strengthen policy-relevant research and teaching to reflect the vital importance of Europe and transatlantic relations to the U.S., the West, and global affairs.”


Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook
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