History of US-EU Relations: 3

Document: The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State, at London
Date: May 11, 1950

“Initial reaction Dept to FR proposal re coal and steel industries is to welcome it as imaginative, useful and having considerable merit.” (emphasis added)


Document: The President’s News Conference of May 18, 1950
Date: May 18, 1950

“Mr. Schuman’s proposal…for the pooling of the French and German steel and coal industries is an act of constructive statesmanship. We welcome it.” (emphasis added)

Pres. Truman goes on to discuss the possible impact of Schuman’s proposal, stating, “I am confident, however, that the kind of imaginative thinking that went into the proposal can work out the details in ways that will benefit not only the countries directly concerned, including those who work in these industries and those who use their products, but also the whole free world.”


Document: The United States Special Representative in Europe (Harriman) to the Secretary of State
Date: May 20, 1950

In the beginning of his report, Harriman starts out with strong praise, “Believe proposal may well prove most important step towards economic progress and peace of Europe since original Marshall speech on ERP.”

At the end of the report, he reiterates the importance of the proposal, “wish emphasize overriding importance that this opportunity be not lost and that US throw full weight its support for prompt initiation and consummation of negotiations…” (emphasis added)


US Context: President Truman and the relevant stakeholders at the State Department recognized the importance of the Schuman Plan and had high hopes for its success.

Acheson 9 May 1950
Dean Acheson during his visit to Paris (9 May 1950)

European Context: Robert Schuman, the French foreign minister, proposed the integration of the coal and steel sectors during a speech on May 9, 1950. For more information on the beginning of the ECSC, I recommend the CVCE webpage, The Birth of the Community of Europewhich has four sections of background information and primary sources- 1) The Origins of the Schuman Plan; 2) The Declaration of 9 May 1950; 3) The Creation of the ECSC; and 4) The Beginnings of the ECSC.

History of US-EU Relations: 2

Document: Rear Platform Remarks in Ohio and Indiana
Date: June 4, 1948

During a speech in Fort Wayne, Indiana, President Truman remarked “there are three things necessary for peace in the world,” one of which was the “success of the European recovery program.”


Document: Letter to Premier de Gasperi on Italian Participation in the European Recovery Program
Date: September 16, 1948

The American people support this program wholeheartedly both for humanitarian and for practical reasons.  In a world growing smaller day by day, no nation can profit by isolating itself.  Mutual dependence means your welfare affects our welfare and vice versa.  Therefore, for our sake, for your sake, and for the sake of all other like-minded countries, it is our hope that the program in Italy and elsewhere will be crowned with success.”  (emphasis added)


Document: Address in Miami at the American Legion Convention
Date: October 18, 1948

After a section discussing support for the European Recovery Program, President Truman moved on to European unity, stating, “We have also been giving support and encouragement to the organization of the Western European Union.”  (emphasis added)

He went on to reason, “our interest is bound up with the peace and economic recovery of the rest of the world.”


US Context: In April 1948, President Truman signed the Foreign Assistance Act, which he said was “a measure for reconstruction, stability, and peace.”  Later that month, Pres. Truman urged Congress to appropriate $4.3 billion for the European Recovery Program.

European Context: In June 1948, as part of Germany’s post-war reconstruction, the three Western allies replaced the Reichsmark with the Deutsche Mark.

History of US-EU Relations: 1

I’m attempting a new series to coincide with our new year and the 2020 US presidential campaign.  Given the disparaging remarks by President Trump towards the EU, I thought it would be useful to take a look back at the history of US-EU relations.  The goal of the series is to show that despite what President Trump has said, the US has a long history of supporting European integration and a strong relationship with the EU.

Since my time and resources are limited, I’m not going for a comprehensive analysis; instead, I want to give readers a snapshot of the history.  For the most part, I am relying on the Foreign Relations of the United States series from the US Department of State and what I can find from presidential libraries.  Each time I share a document, I’ll provide a brief context.


Document: Memorandum by the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Kennanto the Secretary of State
Date: January 20, 1948

“1. The project of a union among the western European nations, under combined French-British auspices, is one which we should welcome just as warmly as Mr. Bevin welcomed your Harvard speech [announcing the Marshall Plan].” (emphasis added) …

Kennan goes on to write, “… if they develop it and make it work, there will be no real question as to our long-term relationship to it.”  In other words, Kennan believed it would be a given that the US would be a long-time ally of European unity.


Document: The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Inverchapel)
Date: January 20, 1948

“…The initiative which [PM Ernest Bevin] is taking in this matter will be warmly applauded in the United States. I want him to know that his proposal has deeply interested and moved me and that I wish to see the United States do everything which it properly can in assisting the European nations in bringing a project along this line to fruition.” (emphasis added)


US Context: Kennan was known for his essay, The Sources of Soviet Conduct, and his Long Telegram, both of which were influential in the US policy of containment.  His memo is in keeping with the ideas laid out in Marshall’s speech, especially that any efforts must first come from Europeans themselves.  The US’ support for European recovery and unity was based mostly on containing the spread of communism.

European Context: Pro-European unity movements had begun to take shape following the Second World War.  Additionally, the Benelux Customs Union, one of the first steps towards economic union in Europe after the War, was established on January 1, 1948.

Five Reasons to Teach the EU

IMG-5577
Tour Participants

In June 2019, the Delegation of the EU to the USA hosted a study tour to Brussels for American educators to learn about the EU. I had the honor of being the curriculum specialist for the tour, showing participants a variety of resources and helping them think about ways to take all of the information back to their students and colleagues. With that in mind, here are five reasons to bring the EU into your curriculum.

1. The EU is a fascinating democratic experiment which has led to peace since its establishment.

The idea that countries were willing to integrate certain sectors and give up a bit of their sovereignty to ensure peace is a quite positive story. That historical context, coupled with the way the EU is set up, can lead to opportunities for great discussions about multi-level governance, legitimacy, and sovereignty. Teachers can also try some of the simulations on the Delegation’s website.

IMG-5575
Here’s me leading a curriculum workshop on teaching resources

2. The post-Cold War generation needs to understand why Europe matters.

Given the nature of the Cold War, it made sense to emphasize transatlantic relations, especially in terms of trade and security. Even though the Cold War ended almost thirty years ago, those issues are still relevant today. Students can see, for example, how much the EU trades with the US and also with their respective state. In terms of security, the EU and the US cooperate in numerous areas (e.g. energy security, cyber security, and maintaining peace.)

Example of information for a state from http://www.euintheustrade.org/

3. The US can learn a lot from the EU.

At a time when global problems require global solutions, the EU’s emphasis on multilateralism provides students with lessons about the importance of working together toward a common solution. Additionally, the EU is a leader in many policy areas, such as climate change and social issues (e.g. the European Pillar of Social Rights.)

4. Learning about the EU increases students’ global awareness.

If we want our students to be aware of the world around them, the EU is a great starting point. With the EU’s emphasis on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), teachers can first start out by talking about the 2030 Agenda and move on to EU policies in each of the seventeen goals. Additionally, since the EU is a global leader in development aid, students can learn what the EU does to help other countries make progress toward the SDG’s.

5. Teaching the EU is interdisciplinary.

At first glance, teaching the EU seems to be most at home in social studies classes. Due to the variety of cultures and languages (24 official ones!), however, the EU can be taught in music (think “Ode to Joy,”) art, foreign language, and even culinary classes.

Interested in teaching the EU?
·
Begin with “Europe in 12 Lessons,” a publication that covers areas such as the history of the EU, its institutions, and what the future might bring.

· For something more in depth, you might want to use “How the EU Works.”

· If you’re looking for activities and materials, the EU has a website called the “Learning Corner.”

· Finally, to keep updated on EU-US relations, follow the Delegation of the EU to the USA and the Ambassador on social media.

Teaching US Students about the Nordics

One of the classes I teach is AP Comparative Government and Politics; so, every May the students take the AP test on what they’ve learned throughout the year.  This leaves us with three weeks after the test until the end of the school year, meaning I have to find something engaging and educational, but not too intense, for my students.  This year I tried something new- a unit on the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden).

Format
Given the nature of the class, I wanted to make sure students learned about each country’s government and policies.  For the policies, we focused on two areas in which the Nordics excel- gender equality and sustainability.  To help them with these policies, I gave them two readings- The Nordic Gender Effect at Work, and A Good Life in a Sustainable Nordic Region: Nordic Strategy for Sustainable Development, 2013-2025.  I also planned on having students learn about each country’s culture, with a focus on language and food.  To help them start their research I gave them the websites for the Nordic Council and the respective embassies, ministries of foreign affairs, and ministries of the environment.

Indicators
One of the topics we discuss during the year is indicators because they help us learn about a government’s values and priorities.  The textbook we use focuses on four broad categories- 1) measuring wealth, 2) measuring inequality and poverty, 3) the Human Development Index (HDI), and 4) happiness- as such, we looked for a variety of related indicators and included the US just to see how we stack up against the Nordics. (*Note: The first five after the HDI rank are all found on the HDI website)

HDI (rank): Denmark- 11; Finland- 15; Iceland- 6; Norway- 1; Sweden- 7; USA- 13

Life expectancy at birth (years): Denmark- 80.9; Finland- 81.8; Iceland- 82.9; Norway- 82.51; Sweden- 82.6; USA- 78.69

Mean years of schooling (years): Denmark- 12.6; Finland- 17.6; Iceland- 12.4; Norway- 12.6; Sweden- 17.6; USA- 13.2

GDP per capita: Denmark- $56,307.51; Finland- $45,703.33; Iceland- $46,483; Norway- $74,504.57; Sweden- $47,766; USA- $54,225

Income inequality, Gini coefficient (100 equals complete inequality): Denmark- 26; Finland- 27.1; Iceland- 25.6; Norway- 25.8; Sweden- 24.9; USA- 41.5

Carbon dioxide emissions, per capita (tonnes): Denmark- 5.94; Finland- 8.66; Iceland- 6.1; Norway- 9.27; Sweden- 4.5; USA- 16.49

Environmental Performance Index (rank): Denmark- 3; Finland- 10; Iceland- 11; Norway- 14; Sweden- 5; USA- 27

Total paid leave available to mothers (weeks): Denmark- 50; Finland- 161; Iceland- 26; Norway- 91; Sweden- 55.7; USA- 0

Gender Inequality Index (rank): Denmark- 2; Finland- 8; Iceland- 9; Norway- 5; Sweden- 3; USA-41

Global Gender Gap (rank): Denmark- 13; Finland- 4; Iceland- 1; Norway- 2; Sweden- 3; USA- 51

Women in national parliament (percentage and rank): Denmark-37.4%, 26; Finland-41.5%, 12; Iceland-38.1%, 22; Norway-40.8%, 14; Sweden-47.3%, 5; USA-23.5% and 25%, 79

Freedom in the world (score out of 100, 100 being the best): Denmark- 97; Finland- 100; Iceland- 95; Norway- 100; Sweden- 100; USA- 86

World Happiness Report (rank): Denmark- 2; Finland- 1; Iceland- 4; Norway- 3; Sweden- 7; USA- 19

Good Country Index (overall rank): Denmark- 6; Finland- 1; Iceland- 36; Norway- 8; Sweden- 4; USA- 40

Government and Policies
Similar to most teachers, I try to make the topics we discuss in class interesting and  come alive.  One way I’ve done that is through Skype.  In the past we’ve talked with Žygimantas Pavilionis, the former ambassador for Lithuania to the US; Carl Skau,  Ambassador to the Security Council and Spokesperson for Sweden’s Mission to the UN; and Chris Kendall and Jon Worth, experts/analysts on both Brexit and European Union. These experiences are always valuable because the students get to learn from someone who knows way more about the topic than I do and who is not me (as much as the students love seeing my face every day and hearing my voice, they benefit from a “change in scenery”).

One thing that has really impressed me about the Nordic ambassadors is they hold Twitter Q+A sessions (#AskNordicAmbs) on a variety of topics (the most recent one was LGBTQ+ rights).  In that spirit, I reached out to all five embassies via Twitter (and email) seeing if the respective ambassadors or their staff would be interested in Skyping with my students.  As a result, I was able to set up sessions with four of the five embassies:

Denmark: Jeppe Mathias Helsted, Senior Advisor (Climate and Energy)
Finland: Sirpa Nyberg, Head of Political Affairs
Norway: Ambassador Kåre R. Aas
Sweden: Göran Lithell, Deputy Chief of Mission

All four were very informative and gracious in answering my students’ questions.  Besides basic information, they all made sure to discuss the two focus areas of sustainability and gender equality.

Protecting the environment and sustainability are quite important to the Nordic way of life.  In particular, it was a point of pride for two people to mention their countries had achieved economic growth while simultaneously lowering GHG emissions.  Additionally,  Amb. Aas discussed the use of battery powered ferries and even airplanes to combat climate change, as well as the emphasis on protecting the oceans.

When it comes to gender equality, one important reason for their success is their respective social welfare systems.  Subsidized daycare.  Free education.  Paid parental leave (including mandatory leave for fathers).  Universal healthcare.  The list goes on and on.  All of these services help to empower women and girls and give them the same opportunities as men and boys.

My only regret from this part of the unit is that we had a mere forty-five minutes to talk with each of them.

Culture
As much as I wanted students to learn a bit of the languages, I was unable to set anything up with people from the university to come and help us.  I guess I’ll just have to be more persistent next year.

To get a taste of the culture of the Nordics, I had students create an itinerary for a week-long trip to their respective countries.  They then had to present their travel guide to the class.  The trip had to include include visits that emphasized the following:

  1. Culture (art, music, language, etc.)
  2. Food
  3. Nature
  4. Innovation
  5. Sustainability

It also had include:

  1. A lot of pictures
  2. Accommodation (where are visitors going to stay?)
  3. Transportation (how are visitors going to go from one place to the next?)
  4. The total cost of the trip

The results were fantastic.  Some groups looked for dates to coincide with festivals or other celebrations.  Others also took advantage of the bicycle-friendly infrastructure and well-established public transportation.  They were also able to make time for trips to picturesque parks and other outdoor areas.  Finally, as to be expected, there were a few museum visits to learn about the Vikings.

One thing I would like to add for next year is movies or tv shows.  I had time to show only one episode of one of my favorite shows on Netflix, “Occupied,” which is set in Norway.  If anybody reads this and has recommendations, please leave a response below.

Conclusion
The students seemed to get a lot out of the unit.  It illustrated the values and priorities of other governments (other than the ones we studied during the year), and it got students thinking about what they want to see from our government here.  Many of them also seemed quite keen to visit the Nordics (or at least one of the countries); in fact, one student asked about immigration policy.   As for me, I have already made it a goal to visit as many of the Nordics as possible and to continue teaching my students about them.

If you have any ideas for next year’s unit on the Nordics, please leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.