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BIPR | Transatlantic Relations under Biden: Opportunities and Challenges!
Transatlantic Relations under Biden: Opportunities and Challenges!

September 20, 2021 - 18:30

Veronika Wand-Danielsson, Ambassador, Americas Department, Swedish Foreign Ministry

Event Recap

In the wake of the dramatic events that unfolded in Afghanistan over the summer and the fallout over the recent Aukus submarine deal, it is no wonder that Transatlantic relations between the United States and Europe are strained. How did we get here and what does the future of US- EU relations hold? On September 20th, the Head of the Americas Department at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Wand-Danielsson, joined the SAIS Europe community in Bologna to discuss the opportunities and obstacles of this special relationship, as well as Sweden's particular place within it.

Speaking a mere few hours after the US announced the lifting of its travel ban for vaccinated EU citizens from November, Ambassador Wand-Danielsson began the conversation by underlining the need for unity and strong partners on both ends of the Atlantic – a body of water that, according to the Ambassador, unifies, rather than divides. In Sweden, particularly, the US is viewed as an invaluable partner. To explain this Ward-Danielsson outlined the strong economic ties, but also emphasized the importance of the security- and defense-oriented nature of the partnership. Today, Sweden faces an increasingly insecure and unstable geopolitical environment in the Baltic region as well as credible threats from Russia and its eastern allies. Despite, or perhaps because Sweden is not a member of NATO, the Scandinavian country therefore looks to the US for security. The joint police operation with the FBI codenamed Trojan Shield and recent training exercises of US and Swedish marines in the Stockholm archipelago are just two examples that demonstrate this objective in practice.

Moving away from the particularities of the US' relationship with Sweden and focusing more generally on the Brussel's agenda, Ambassador Wand-Danielsson outlined four common priorities: public health, climate change, green trade, and shared democratic values. This new transatlantic agenda has a high potential, both in terms of economic output and strategic progress. For one, the newly formed Trade and Technology Council (TTC) between the US and EU is set for its inaugural meeting at the end of September, marking both parties' commitment to deepening economic ties in the context of a rapidly changing global environment. Furthermore, there is a shared understanding of the need to combat climate change and work towards net zero emissions. However, agreeing on how exactly this is done, and by when, is one of the current challenges.

Full Audio:

Transatlantic Relations under Biden: Opportunities and Challenges!
European and Eurasian Studies Series

hosted by Professor Michael Leigh

Veronika Wand-Danielsson
Ambassador, Americas Department, Swedish Foreign Ministry

Ambassador Wand-Danielsson is the Head of the Americas Department at the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, responsible for Sweden's relations with the countries in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ambassador Wand-Danielsson was educated in Norway (Baccalaureate), Sweden (BSc at Uppsala University, 1984) and Paris (Certificat d'Etudes politiques at Institut de Sciences Politiques, 1985), complemented by PhD-studies at the department for Political Science at Stockholm University.

Wand-Danielsson started her career as a Consultant at the OECD DAC Development Centre in Paris, focusing on public aid flows to the SADCC-region. In 1990, she joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and became responsible for Swedish international drugs control cooperation and financial assistance to the UN Drugs Control Programme. In 1993 she was detached from the MFA to the European Commission in Brussels (DG Development), responsible for drugs control cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP). In 1998 she was appointed Information and Communication advisor to the Director General of DG Development.

In 2000 Wand-Danielsson returned to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She was appointed Minister-Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU, responsible for EU relations with the Western Balkans and chairing the Council working group for the Balkans (Coweb) during the Swedish EU-Presidency in 2001. In 2003 she was nominated Minister and Head of the External Relations Unit at the Representation and in 2004 was appointed Head of the Swedish Task Force and Chief negotiator for the Financial Perspectives Negotiations (EU's long term budget).

In 2007 Wand-Danielsson was appointed Sweden's Ambassador and Head of Mission to NATO, a position she kept until 2014. During these years Sweden deepened its political relations and military cooperation with NATO and participated in NATO-led missions in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Libya.

From September 2014 until August 2020 Wand-Danielsson represented Sweden as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to France and Monaco. The historically strong bilateral relations between France and Sweden were further strengthened during those years, through the adoption in 2017 of the first Strategic Partnership for Innovation and Green Solutions.
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