Visit From EU Ambassador to the U.S. Stresses Importance of Partnership

EU Ambassador Stavros LambrinidisFollowing his visit Monday afternoon with UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank, His Excellency, Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Ambassador to the U.S. came down Bascom Hill through the falling snow for a public fireside panel discussion about the challenges facing the EU and US relationship.

The panel interview was led by Professor of Political Science, Jean Monnet Chair, and Director of the Center for European Studies at UW-Madison, Nils Ringe, and UW-Madison’s visiting Carl Schurz Professor Michael Kaeding, with many students and members of the public in attendance. What followed was a candid discussion of the current challenges facing the EU and U.S. partnership.

His Excellency Lambrinidis opened by emphasizing the long historical relationship between the nations of Europe and Wisconsin, citing the great number of Wisconsinites who can trace family origins to Europe. He also highlighted the State’s more recent economic ties to Europe and the current strain the trade wars of the summer are exerting on this old friendship.

In June 2019, the United States imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. In response, the EU has put a tariff on many products from the U.S. including Wisconsin exports like soy, cranberries, Harley Davidson products.

The Ambassador noted that nations not only export their products through trade, but also their ideas and values, saying that America and the European Union have long shared the same values of democracy and regard for human rights. He seemed concerned that the current trade wars might force both entities into broader trade with less democratic countries, citing China and its current treatment of the minority Uighur population specifically.

The Ambassador also stressed the importance of working together in the effort to establish standards for Artificial Intelligence and surveillance that prioritize the rights of citizens and human dignity, he fears more autocratic nations with advanced surveillance technology might set the international bar. Underlining the significance of the impact of innovations in technology on the world’s economies, the Ambassador augured, “Data is the new oil” and insisted that EU and the US should collaborate to best protect the data.

It was an honor to have the EU Ambassador on the UW-Madison campus and a wonderful opportunity for the students to meet and ask questions directly to the Ambassador.

By Eleanor Conrad