Both in the United States and in Europe, I constantly get asked why an American should have any interest in the European Union or Europe in general besides just as a vacation destination. Why on earth would an American study European Public Affairs? While many of my American friends at University have decided to specialize in Political Science or International Relations for their Master’s degree, I chose instead to specialize in European Public Affairs. For some Americans, it is hard to fathom what exactly it is that I study. For Europeans, it is hard to fathom an American having a true passion for the topic.

On the second of February, I was listening to a broadcast of Vice President Biden’s speech to the Munich Security Conference. Some of his remarks concerned the special relations between Europe and the United States. This was a moment where I felt a sort of relief, that people really do understand how vital this piece of the puzzle is in International Relation. It also served to reinforce the thought that maybe I am not crazy after all for specializing in this area.

While speaking about various areas of concern for both Europe and the United States, Biden discussed the importance of working together to approach challenges, despite many areas of difference.

“You remain, to state the obvious, America’s oldest and our closest allies. And it’s hard to imagine a single threat or a single opportunity that cannot be addressed more effectively if we do so together. Simply put, President Obama and I continue to believe that, Europe is the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world and is the catalyst for our global cooperation. It’s that basic. Nothing has changed.”

President Obama - Fall 2011 Speech at Univ. of Richmond - taken by Author

President Obama – Fall 2011 Speech at Univ. of Richmond – taken by Author

He talked of the economic significance of Europe being “America’s largest economic partner” and briefly touched upon the recent discussions about the possibility of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement, claiming that such “is within our reach”. The possibility of such an agreement is incredibly exciting, as this would be one of the largest trade agreements in existence. As someone with a high passion for transatlantic relations, the very thought of the discussions to take place in the near future sends shivers down the spine.

“One important thing remains unchanged: We need to work together, we need to stick together,
we need you as much as you need us.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why an American can have a legitimate interest in specializing in European Public Affairs.

Article By Natasha Levanti