- May 03, 2021
On May 3, 2021 the Aspen Institute Germany hosted an online discussion on the topic “Open Strategic Autonomy: The Future of the EU’s Economic and Trade Policy?” with Dr. Sabine Weyand, Director-General, Directorate-General for Trade, European Commission, Professor Thomas Philippon, Max L. Heine Professor of Finance, Stern School of Business, New York University and Member of the French Council of Economic Advisers and Member of the G7 Panel of Experts, Dr. Claudia Schmucker, Head of the Geo-Economics Program, German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), Dr. Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and Special Adviser to EU High Representative and Vice President of the Commission Josep Borrell, and Elmar Brok, former Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senior Fellow at the Aspen Institute Germany.
In the discussion, it was emphasized that the introduction of a new EU trade strategy with the underlying concept of “Open Strategic Autonomy” was necessary in the context of new geopolitical challenges in order to maintain a central role for the EU in the world and to represent its values and interests more assertively. Open Strategic Autonomy thus means ‘acting together wherever possible, acting alone wherever necessary’. In this context the EU should focus on its strengths – multilateral decision-making, the establishment of international trade standards and bilateral agreements. However, the discussion also addressed possible risks related to the new concept such as a growing economic imbalance between member states as well as protectionism. In addition, the positions of central EU member states were addressed. In Germany, for instance, in the wake of the Corona crisis the focus in trade policy has shifted from openness to resilience and the enforcement of fair competition. The experts also took a closer look at the EU-China investment agreement concluded in December 2020 and transatlantic relations in the area of trade.
The recording of the event can be watched here:
The event opened the Aspen Institute Germany’s virtual event series on “The Future of Europe: Towards Strategic Autonomy?”, which aims to shed more light on the debate surrounding the concept of European Strategic Autonomy. The key focus of the series is how the concept can be implemented in different policy areas and how Strategic Autonomy is perceived and interpreted within the EU and in different member states. The upcoming events in the series will focus on Strategic Autonomy in the areas of security, climate policy, and digitalization and technology.