Europe, the U.S. and Global Challenges
Thursday, October 28
Via Zoom | 10:00-11:00 am PST
The Global Policy Institute is delighted to host Federica Mogherini for a conversation on the future of transatlantic relations.
Mogherini served as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission from 2014-2019. As High Representative/Vice-President, Mogherini was Europe’s top diplomat, responsible for coordinating foreign policy among 28 countries.
While the past few years were tested by geopolitical power shifts and bilateral tensions, the Biden-Harris administration, along with a more assertive and capable European Union, offer an opportunity for new transatlantic cooperation. Europe and the U.S. face significant global challenges, including climate change, pandemics, the rise of China, and democracy erosion around the world. At the same time, disagreements have surfaced between European countries and the United States, as in the case of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the recent US-UK-Australia submarine deal. Will such disagreements accelerate the European Union’s move toward strategic autonomy? How can Europe and the US cooperate effectively on the global stage?
In conversation with GPI Director Gabriele Magni, Mogherini will offer her perspective on the global challenges faced by Europe and the United States.
About Loyola Marymount University
LMU is a private Catholic university with 6,000 undergraduates, 2,200 graduate students and 1,100 law students from diverse backgrounds and many perspectives. Our seven colleges and schools boast best-in-the-nation programs in film and television, business, education and more. Our stunning campus in West Los Angeles is a sun-soaked oasis overlooking the Pacific coast and a model of sustainability. We're rooted in the heart of Los Angeles, a global capital for arts and entertainment, innovation and technology, business and entrepreneurship. Our mission is grounded in a centuries-old Jesuit educational tradition that produces extraordinary men and women dedicated to service and social justice. We're proud of more than 85,000 LMU alumni whose professional achievements are matched by a deep commitment to improving the lives of others.
Federica Mogherini served as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission from 2014-2019.
As High Representative/Vice-President, Mogherini was Europe’s top diplomat, responsible for coordinating foreign policy among 28 countries. During her tenure as High Representative/Vice-President, she was instrumental in forging the international agreement on the Iran nuclear program. She also launched the EU’s Global Strategy for Foreign and Security Policy.
Before joining the EU, Mogherini was Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Previously, she served in the Italian parliament (2008 to 2014) and was Head of the Italian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and Vice-President of its Political Committee; member of the Italian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; Secretary of the Defence Committee; and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Currently, Mogherini is the Rector of the College of Europe and Co-Chair of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement.
Mogherini has a degree in Political Science from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and holds a honoris causa Doctorate from the University of Tampere, Finland.
On October 28, 2021, Frederica Mogherini came to speak at a Loyola Marymount event hosted by the Global Policy Institute. Ms. Mogherini served as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission from 2014 to 2019. She was Europe’s top diplomat, responsible for coordinating foreign policy among 28 countries. With the discussion being led by Global Policy Institute Director Gabriele Magni, she talked about her job and she focused on issues such as the relationship between the European Union and China and climate change.
Ms. Mogherini started her journey in politics in high school. It was around this time that the Berlin Wall fell, and it was the first time she saw the world changing around her. She started reading news articles to keep herself informed and started learning about politics, as major political events began unfolding. This included the collapse of the Soviet Union, the shift from the Cold War to a new era, and later on the Iraq War. She participated in a demonstration against the Iraq War and felt empowered, which led her to pursue a career in politics. Her primary area of interest focused on foreign and security policy.
The start of Ms. Mogherini’s career began in the Italian parliament. Currently, she works in the academic field as the Rector of the College of Europe, a postgraduate institution that focuses its study on the European Union, international relations, and diplomacy. The institute also has a transatlantic program in partnership with Tufts University. After five years of working in EU institutions, she found that the best way to contribute to the implementation and progress of new policies is through educating the younger generation. By teaching younger students, one empowers a new generation of activists and provides them with the instruments to create change. She sees her role as an educator as a different way of continuing her previous work.
Ms. Mogherini’s previous work included her role as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Within this role, she coordinated both foreign policy and security defense policy for different states, including working on mainstream political events such as the Brexit referendum. Around one to two times a month, a Foreign Affairs Council consisting of Foreign Affairs ministers would meet to discuss and come to a consensus on decisions involving relations with countries such as Libya, Syria, and China. She also had the responsibility to conduct bilateral visits to countries and institutions that the EU was providing aid to, attend the General Assembly of the United Nations, and other summits. Furthermore, she worked on military coordination alongside counterterrorism coalitions, managed partnerships with other countries, and attended parliamentary sessions and debates monthly. She helped countries come to a consensus on a variety of issues.
However, bringing thirty different countries with a variety of ideas to a consensus is no easy feat. These debates have a heavy structure that is meant to aid the decision-making process. Decisions are prepared beforehand, and every state sends ambassadors dedicated to preparing and filing decisions with an extensive staff. All conclusions and decisions are put into statements and sent to the meeting with the ambassadors. There are four weeks between each Foreign Affairs Council meeting, which means that the decisions for the next meeting start getting prepared right after the first meeting is finished. Ms. Mogherini spent an extensive amount of time working with the ministers to come to an agreement. Before meetings, if an issue stood out as particularly sensitive for a certain country, Ms. Mogherini would reach out beforehand to pay attention to their political needs which helped to reach a consensus during meetings faster. Having been a foreign minister herself, she knew how to navigate the decision-making process as well as write arguments that ministers could take back to their respective countries, which helped reach her preferred consensus. The most difficult issue Ms. Mogherini identified were the arguments over grammar, such as the placement of commas and wording.
An example of Ms. Mogherini’s work can be demonstrated through one of the policy agreements that she accomplished in her time as High Representative. One of Ms. Mogherini’s proudest achievements was the Iran Nuclear Deal. Even after the previous US president, President Trump, withdrew from the agreement and put pressure on the EU to also withdraw, the deal held together. European unity helped keep the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese communities in the agreement, which allows the current administrations to engage with Iran. Following the Trump Administration, which pulled out of many trans-Atlantic agreements, tensions between the EU and America were high.
Despite the fraught tensions that the Trump Administration created after pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords as well as the Iran Nuclear Deal, Europeans still look to Americans with a sense of trust, confidence, friendship, and partnership. The Biden Administration provided a sense of relief to many Europeans, and while there were not moments throughout the Trump Administration where American and Europe were no longer partners, there were still many difficult times. However, the way Americans make decisions on foreign policy has changed permanently. American foreign security decisions are determined by domestic contradictions and public opinion, whereas before Americans invested in partnerships as a safety net. Currently, the partnership is akin to a mature friendship in which disagreements can be addressed without drama, although America and Europe are not automatically on the same side anymore. Despite this, the US rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement is a clear sign that the US is back on track to being on the same side as Europe.
The Paris Climate Agreement is important to the Trans-Atlantic partnership because the EU is currently the primary international global player pushing for climate change advocacy. EU climate change ambassadors have created a complex and detailed network of contacts over the years to mobilize climate change action across the globe. While it may be unsuccessful, the EU has spared no efforts in their fight against climate change, out of both principle and the effects they have already begun to see through the fires in Italy and Greece and the floods in Belgium and Germany.
Notwithstanding, climate change cannot be fought without a partnership with China. Over the years, the EU and China have had a fraught relationship over steel overproduction and China’s disregard of World Trade Organization rules. The US was not supportive of the EU in this fight, which leaves Europeans cautious of starting another Cold War with China without the backing of the US. China is both an economic competitor and a rival due to human rights issues. With human rights issues, the EU lacks leverage over China as the instruments for change on the international level are less effective on non-democratic institutions. Of course, human rights are not only an issue in countries one might expect. The US has lower human rights standards than the EU does, specifically with regard to social and economic rights as well as the death penalty.
Ms. Mogherini then described policy issues that were not so mainstream, policies that she believed deserve more attention. One major issue she identified with the EU’s policy approach is their post-conflict resolution. The EU is excellent with crisis management, but post-conflict management would need more energy and attention. Moreover, the EU has trouble managing non-problematic situations. The EU has partnerships with many countries that do not cause problems. However, since these countries are not “troublemakers,” they often get little attention. Investing in good relationships does not take as much energy, and would be an effective measure against future conflict.
While many issues were identified, Ms. Mogherini finished the discussion with what she felt optimistic about in the future. She discussed the promising empowerment of youth and described the dynamic youth she sees in her travels. The new generations are more educated due to technology and courageous enough to openly criticize previous generations. She sees a bright future thanks to the youth.
Written by Anushka Brito, GPI Undergraduate Fellow