Meridian International Center Partners with Embassy of France to Launch the U.S.-France Leadership Dialogue

Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, July 17, 2012, Meridian International Center formally launched its new strategic initiative, the U.S.-France Leadership Dialogue, at the French Embassy. The Dialogue, which Meridian will conduct in partnership with Association France-Amériques and French-American Cultural Foundation, and with support from the Richard Lounsbery Foundation, is structured around a series of forums on key policy issues that will be held in the U.S. and France over the next two years. It will bring together policy leaders from the French and U.S. governments, businesses, and the non-profit sector to identify areas of bilateral cooperation on current economic and social challenges. The initial full-day session will be held in Paris this fall, followed by a session in Washington in spring 2013.

The Dialogue will be a sustained conversation among decision-makers and thought-leaders on policy questions that can have an important and positive impact on Franco-American relations. In announcing the launch of the dialogue, His Excellency François Delattre, Ambassador of France, called the initiative “one of the the premier transatlantic forums for the discussion of the Franco-American relations.” Ambassador Delattre and The Honorable Charles H. Rivkin, U.S. Ambassador to France, are the Honorary Co-Chairs of the Dialogue. The Honorable Barton J. Gordon, Partner at K&L Gates and the Former Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, will serve as the U.S. Policy Chair for the Dialogue.

The launch commenced with a panel discussion on “Charting a Path toward Sustainable Growth for the U.S. and France: Priorities for the Next Decade,” which focused on the two nations’ varying approaches to economic recovery. Opening the discussion, Ambassador Delattre underscored the mutual commitment of both countries to freedom and democracy as the “moral compass” to confront the impending challenges. He added that the shared priorities of innovation and entrepreneurship have reinforced U.S.-France relations through partnerships in education, biosciences, energy and sustainability development, multilateral forums, and investment.

Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO of Meridian International Center, also presided at the discussion and noted that the newfound emphasis on research, innovation, and private-sector engagement, has “changed the conversation” in foreign policy. The U.S.-France Leadership Dialogue, he said, is “a departure from traditional foreign policy tracks as the forum will embrace the changing elements of a global economy.”

The discussion panel featured Mr. Jim Hoagland, Contributing Editor at The Washington Post, and Dr. Justin Vaïsse, Director of Research at the Center on the United States and Europe and Senior Fellow on Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution. Each panelist offered key insights on the core issues defining U.S-France relations and which will influence the direction of the Dialogue. Congressman Bart Gordon moderated the discussion.

Mr. Hoagland began the discussion with the observation that the American-European relationship is the “heart of world politics.” He stressed the need for U.S.-France cooperation in tackling the Eurozone crisis, with the U.S. playing a crucial role in assisting the EU draft an action plan. He also emphasized the concept of ‘strategic patience’ in responding to the economic challenge from China and other growing economic powers, whereby both countries can pursue technological advancement as they adjust to changing labor markets.

During the discussion, Dr. Vaïsse noted that France has maintained its defense budget while other European countries have made significant cuts. He highlighted that an increase in defense spending will spur greater cooperation between the U.S. and France, citing France-NATO cooperation in Libya.

The panelists concurred that the main priorities for the Franco-American cooperation will be maintaining their economic advantage through research, innovation, and technology; addressing the growing need for a strategic defense policy; and focusing on energy development.

Project summary

Meridian International Center Partners with Embassy of France to Launch the U.S.-France Leadership Dialogue | July 2012
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Countries: France
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Foreign Policy, Entrepreneurship, Public Diplomacy
Program Areas: Global Leadership, Diplomacy
Partners: Diplomatic Corps, Individuals/Donors, Private Sector, Public Sector