Since 2004, the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress has been working with senior decision-makers in the United States and Europe to address disconnects between the EU, NATO and the G8. With a focus on foreign policy, homeland security and the Middle East, the first round of these consultations resulted in the Center publication Maximizing NATO for the War on Terror, which recommended steps to pursue shared security interests through better leadership and greater Executive branch coordination. In 2006, Center staff followed up on those efforts with senior European allies in Brussels, London, Berlin and Lisbon, with a goal of strengthening multilateral leadership.
The Center built on these efforts with an initiative on transatlantic relations, Strengthening Multi-Lateral Leadership: A European Exchange Program. This program brought 14 exceptional young leaders (ages 30-40) from positions of policy planning in European governments or in the policy-research community to Washington, DC, to meet with experts involved in the 2009 and past Presidential transitions in order to better understand the challenges and processes of the period. Within the frame of “transition,” these visitors were exposed to the technical workings of the U.S. government, from the personnel selection process to developing agendas for the Obama Administration. Critical policy issues were deliberated in an effort to present and candidly discuss the prevailing attitudes in Washington as well as in Brussels and other European capitals. The goal of this initiative was to explore avenues for European and U.S. cooperation in order to prevent communication breakdowns between transatlantic governments during the transition, as well as to strengthen the relationship and communication between governmental, policy and academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad.
This program offered an incomparable vantage point on the 2008-2009 Presidential transition for the European leaders of tomorrow. Participants spent one week in November 2008 meeting with experts on Presidential transitions and American politics; sessions were held on the future of U.S.-European relations, the transition process at the State Department and on Capitol Hill, and the economic and environmental policy concerns facing the Obama Administration, among other topics. Speakers included former Senator Bill Brock, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and former White House Chief of Staff Thomas McLarty, along with transition scholars and representatives from the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. In March of 2009, participants returned to Washington, DC, for another week to evaluate the progression of the transition through the first 100 days of the Obama Administration. During this second visit, they met again with many of the individuals from their first trip, allowing them to build on previous discussions and evaluate changing American political dynamics as well as to follow up on the policy projections made in November.
The Center received funding from the Luso-American Foundation, the Stuart Family Foundation, and the Tulsa Community Foundation, as well as several private donors, for this project.