Although I am not an American, the question “Why should the European Union matter to Americans?” has triggered my interest and curiosity. I am a student at NYU Abu Dhabi, majoring in political science and interested in international and regional organizations. Studying at NYU Florence for a semester has been a wonderful learning experience, especially when learning about the European Union through my courses and the workshops of The EU in Focus series, which includes Professor Weiler’s talk.
One interesting part of this talk was that in addition to providing information about the EU (its decision-making process, internal structure, institutions, and legislation), it also uncovered the complex relations that the EU establishes with other important global powers such as the United States.
The main points that I took away are that the EU is a giant economic power and trade with the EU is very important to the U.S. (The EU is the 4th biggest export market for the U.S.). In addition to their economic ties, the EU collaborates with the U.S. and the international community to apply “soft power” to international crises, an area where the EU excels. For instance, the EU is currently applying economic sanctions to Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, supporting international efforts. I was curious to find out more about EU-Russian relations and Professor Weiler expanded on this topic. It was surprising to find out that the EU and Russia face almost the same negative economic consequences as a result of imposing sanctions.
This engaging talk re-emphasized the idea of the inter-connectivity that exists in our global world. It added another layer of complexity to my understanding of international relations. It was a great honor to learn from Professor Weiler and be able to ask questions. Through such events I feel that my experience at NYU Florence turns into a unique and engaging process of learning!