Andrew Seaton, British consul general of Chicago, argued that relations between the European Union and other prominent nations, such as the U.S., are "interdependent and reciprocal" during a speech sponsored by the UW European Studies Alliance.
"Geometry of difference nonetheless, you see transatlantic relations," Seaton said to an audience of UW students, faculty and community members. "[There is] renewed commitment on both sides to work together more closely."
As just one example of the European Union working with other international powers, Seaton said the union has sent the greatest amount of troops to Afghanistan.
According to Seaton, who first joined the British Foreign Office in 1977 and was the head of the China-Hong Kong department from 2000 to 2003, the U.S. media has spurred strained relations between the European Union and other nations because of negative portrayals in the media.
Seaton listed a number of criticisms that the U.S. media has expressed about Europe, including, "economically under performing … marked by slow growth" and a "politically paralyzed, opaque and a dysfunctional system."
Although Seaton said he did not agree with these disparaging claims in the media, he added there is a lot of evidence illustrating the inaccuracies in the claims, such as Germany's status as the world's largest exporter.
Additionally, Seaton said U.S. international relations, particularly with Europe, "fell apart" over the war in Iraq and that "fundamental values are drifting apart."
Despite the differences, Seaton encouraged further relations between the European Union, the U.K. in particular, and the U.S.
Overall, Seaton said the globalization process between the European Union and the United States is growing fast, and that the two powers could become the core of a working coalition.
Matthew Leider, a UW student who attended Seaton's speech, agreed.
"[Seaton] demonstrated the European Union and United States relations [are] not turning negatively as people think," Leider said. "Its important that they still exist."
Seaton also spoke of the continued growth of the European Union and how it has helped the infrastructure of the countries that recently joined.
According to Seaton, of the 10 countries that joined the European Union in 2004, eight were formerly part of the Soviet Bloc and are now transitioning to free market economies.
He added countries are choosing to join the European Union through their own free will — not by military force — demonstrating the political freedom the union guarantees.
Gregory Shaffer, a UW law professor and director of the UW European Union Center, said one of the most important points of Seaton's speech was the commonality between the U.S. and the European Union.
"We have a lot more in common than what differentiates us," Shaffer said.