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Transatlantic Relations at a Time of Uncertainty: The Formation of Transatlantic Axis

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European Union Security and Defence

Part of the book series: Contributions to Political Science ((CPS))

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Transatlantic relations have been the cornerstone of the Western alliance since the end the Second World War. Ever since, they have created a world order based on balance, respect for the rule of law and democracy. In the second decade of the twenty-first century, this axis appeared to be threatened by a number of challenges not only in terms of engagement but also in terms of alternative responses. European and American responses were formulated on a divergent axis based on the two strategic partners’ respective role, the means disposed and their vision of the emerging world order.

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  1. 1.

    As noted, ‘the U.S. has historically been the EU’s closest ally, with common interests and values as well as a shared view of the world guiding bilateral relations and joint actions’.

  2. 2.

    As suggested, ‘a group will form around the United States, but in order to wage the cold war with greater force. The obvious reason is that the countries of Europe are afraid and are seeking help’.

  3. 3.

    ‘A transformed Atlantic Alliance constitutes an essential element in the new architecture of an undivided Europe; we are agreed that the Alliance must have the flexibility to continue to develop and evolve as the security situation dictates. An important basis for this transformation is the agreement of all Allies to enhance the role and responsibility of the European members. We welcome efforts further to strengthen the security dimension in the process of European integration and recognize the significance of the progress made by the countries of the European Community towards the goal of political union, including the development of a common foreign and security policy. These two positive processes are mutually reinforcing. The development of a European security identity and defense role, reflected in the strengthening of the European pillar within the Alliance, will reinforce the integrity and effectiveness of the Atlantic Alliance’.

  4. 4.

    As plausibly noted, ‘spending and investment in defense across Europe has steadily declined since the end of the Cold War’.

  5. 5.

    ‘The North Atlantic Alliance has been the most successful defensive alliance in history. As our Alliance enters its fifth decade and looks ahead to a new century, it must continue to provide for the common defense. This Alliance has done much to bring about the new Europe. No one, however, can be certain of the future. We need to keep standing together, to extend the long peace we have enjoyed these past four decades. Yet our Alliance must be even more an agent of change. It can help build the structures of a more united continent, supporting security and stability with the strength of our shared faith in democracy, the rights of the individual, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. We reaffirm that security and stability do not lie solely in the military dimension, and we intend to enhance the political component of our Alliance as provided for by Article 2 of our Treaty’.

  6. 6.

    ‘Article 47 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) explicitly recognizes the legal personality of the European Union, making it an independent entity in its own right’.

  7. 7.

    For a legal approach.

  8. 8.

    For an overall evaluation of D. Trump’s policies and the way they affect relations with the EU.

  9. 9.

    On the issue of European defense integration and particularly the motives behind ESDP/CSDP). The approach sees the quest through a Political realism prism as a case of bandwagoning, not simply a balance of power choice.

  10. 10.

    As noted, ‘the EU remains principally a “civilian power” – using the leverage of access to or exclusion from its large domestic market, alongside a dominant position in economic standards-setting and regulatory design, to achieve economic advantage or to try to modify the behavior of other governments’.

  11. 11.

    On the ‘Old-New Europe’ divide how the UN divided the two strategic partners over Iraq.

  12. 12.

    For instance, ‘normative’ and ‘normative behavior’ may be interpreted in different ways.

  13. 13.

    For a neo-realist critical approach of the concept of normative power.

  14. 14.

    In the case of Spain (just an indicative case), although the country ‘argues that NATO is its current security guarantor, it still sees the EU as having the potential to become a security organization’. The analyses by country illustrate the different views of European partners vis-à-vis the role of the EU, its evolvement and the way this might affect EU–US relations.

  15. 15.

    Further analysis on these problems.

  16. 16.

    On the legal components of transatlantic relations.

  17. 17.

    On the EU process.

  18. 18.

    It was also noted that (Global Governance for the twenty-first Century) ‘the EU is committed to a global order based on international law, which ensures human rights, sustainable development and lasting access to the global commons. This commitment translates into an aspiration to transform rather than to simply preserve the existing system’. The aim of ‘transforming’ the international system implies a new global order based on rules. See EU and UN partnership vital for rules-based international system, Statement by Stephen Hickey, UK Political Coordinator at the UN, at the Security Council briefing on UN/EU cooperation, 12 March 2019,

  19. 19.

    ‘As the system moves away from bipolarity toward multipolarity, the frequency and intensity of war should be expected to diminish’. On the opposite view see Copper, J. F. (1975) ‘The Advantages of a Multipolar International System: an Analysis of Theory and Practice’, International Studies, Vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 397–415.

  20. 20.

    For an evaluation of the euro crisis.

  21. 21.

    My underlining.

  22. 22.

    As noted, ‘there are other, equally concerned parties with whom the EU can work as it seeks to mitigate the strategic upheaval. From Canada to South Korea, Australia to Japan, the EU has partners that may be sceptical about the ability of Europe to step up its strategic game, but not about its desirability. Such countries are similarly keen to demonstrate the enduring appeal of effective multilateralism and a rules-based system against the forces of disruption’.

  23. 23.

    As noted, ‘Obama’s new international policy is what the European Union but also many other countries of the world have called for’.

  24. 24.

    For the changes and reorientation of US policy, see Parmar, I., Miller, L. B. & Mark Ledwidge, M. (eds) (2014) Obama and the World, New Directions in US Foreign Policy, 2nd edn, Oxon-New York, Routledge.

  25. 25.

    WTO dispute has paralyzed the organization and its operational capability. The EU expressed its views in July 2018. As pointed out, it [EU] ‘stresses the role of the WTO in settling trade-related disputes; calls on all WTO members to ensure the proper functioning of the WTO dispute settlement system; regrets in this regard the United States’ blocking of new nominations to fill the vacancies the Appellate Body, which threatens the very functioning of the WTO dispute settlement system; calls on the Commission and all WTO members to explore ways to overcome this impasse on renewing judges at the WTO Appellate Body, and, if necessary by reforming the dispute settlement system; considers that such reforms could aim at ensuring the highest possible level of efficiency and independence of the system, while remaining consistent with the values and the general approach that the EU has constantly defended since the creation of the WTO, notably the promotion of free and fair trade on a global basis under the rule of law and the need for all WTO members to comply with all WTO obligations’.

  26. 26.

    The description ‘confusing multipolar world’ may provide the blare picture of global order.


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Voskopoulos, G. (2021). Transatlantic Relations at a Time of Uncertainty: The Formation of Transatlantic Axis. In: Voskopoulos, G. (eds) European Union Security and Defence. Contributions to Political Science. Springer, Cham.

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