SAIS Europe MAIA Thesis Abstract:
The Transatlantic Partnership
The thesis deals with the Transatlantic partnership and its power relations. It acknowledges a deterioration of relations between the United States and the European Union and investigates its reasons. The timeframe adopted spans from 2001 up to current times. This serves a twofold purpose of defining the field of research and of avoiding a narrow focus on specific American presidencies.
The author recognizes the relevance of leaders and their specific policies, however the thesis highlights a trend common to all American presidents in the last 20 years. This is the U.S. inclination to leverage its dominant position in global network, particularly the financial and digital ones, to achieve foreign policy goals.
The network influence differs from the previous U.S. 'exorbitant privilege' as it is more intrusive, assertive, and complex to elude. This use of coercive American power causes a series of feedback loop externalities, potentially triggering a decoupling process between the EU and the U.S. Strains have been a constant in the Transatlantic relationship, however this structural power has brought a new dimension of tensions between the U.S. and the EU.
To develop the case the thesis adopts the theory of weaponized interdependence conceived by Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman. This theoretical framework lays the foundations to understand network power and the structural asymmetries present in global governance arrangements that the U.S. leveraged against the EU.The thesis argues that U.S. weaponization of financial and digital network has alienated the EU, incentivizing a European decoupling process from the American-led global arrangements, and eventually triggering spiraling tensions in the Transatlantic relationship in the last twenty years.
To support the argument the paper focuses on the JCPOA, Nord Stream 2 and Digital space. These are three different episodes that, under the lens of weaponization of interdependence, underlines U.S. coercive power and its detrimental consequences on the Transatlantic relationship.
The analysis conducted in the present paper upholds the thesis' argument, as it emerges that the United States weaponization of interdependence has brought new tensions in the Transatlantic relationship. The academic literature is abundant of studies that deal with EU-U.S. relations. The thesis provides a critical contribution through the analysis of power asymmetries present in the global networks. This helps explaining both the American influence over the EU as well as the European autonomy ambitions. In addition, the present paper wants to contribute to the academic strand of 'weaponization of interdependence' by applying this theory both to the Transatlantic relationship and as a lens to analyze JCPOA, Nord Stream 2 and the digital space power relations. Eventually the thesis provides a study of EU strategic autonomy, diverging from the predominant ones concerned with the military and defense field, to enrich the literature with an analysis through network theory that offers hints on the EU capacity to exert authority, specifically in the digital policy area.
Giorgio Severi is an Italian professional with expertise on EU Affairs and Green policies. Currently, he works at Acumen Public Affairs in the Sustainability team where he provides clients with thorough policy analysis and strategic advice.
He worked at Enel's EU affairs division within the Energy and Environmental policies Unit. This experience provided him with direct knowledge of the EU Green Deal's main dossiers. Giorgio also worked at Associated Press where he conducted on field research, reported on international politics' news and run interviews.
Giorgio pursued a double degree program through which he earned two Master degrees. He holds an MA in International affairs with concentration on EU matters at Johns Hopkins University. There, he was awarded with C. Grove Haines Prize for faculty's best thesis. He also holds an MA in International Relations at Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, where he graduated with full marks.