The political establishments in the United States and Europe woke to a new reality in 2016. From the UK’s Brexit decision and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, to creeping authoritarianism in Hungary and Poland and the rise of far-right parties across the continent, there was a dramatic resurgence of nationalist, anti-elite, and anti-immigrant currents. On both sides of the Atlantic, populists promised to give voice to the grievances of the people—the alleged “losers” of globalization who faced unemployment, socioeconomic immobility, a declining quality of life, and the erosion of traditional values. As several elections have revealed, populists channeled this dissatisfaction through platforms of economic nationalism and protectionism, challenging political establishments which they depicted as out of touch and a liberal international order—with the U.S. and Europe at its core—described as ineffective, unfair, or both.
On April 10, the Center on the United States and Europe (CUSE) and the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings, in collaboration with the Robert Bosch Stiftung, hosted a discussion exploring the broad set of political, social, and economic phenomena driving the rise of populism in the United States and Europe, and possible responses to them. The event also launched the “Brookings – Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative,” a new collaboration that will produce nonpartisan research and analysis and sustain dialogue to reinvigorate transatlantic collaboration on global issues. The Robert Bosch Stiftung is one of Europe’s largest foundations associated with a private company. It is active in the areas of health, science, society, education, and international relations. For more than 30 years, strengthening the ties between the United States and Germany has been one of the main goals of the foundation.
The event featured a conversation with French Ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud, Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, and Brookings Robert Bosch Senior Fellow Constanze Stelzenmüller. David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center, moderated the discussion. Brookings President Strobe Talbott and Robert Bosch Stiftung Chief Executive Officer Uta-Micaela Dürig offered introductory remarks.