Episode 37: A Warming Trend for the U.S.-EU Partnership?

David O'Sullivan

Steptoe and Johnson LLP

David O’Sullivan served as Ambassador of the European Union Delegation to the United States from November 2014 until February 2019.

Prior to his appointment as ambassador, he was the chief operating officer of the EU's new diplomatic service, the ‘European External Action Service.’ He had previously held a number senior positions within the European Commission including director general for trade (2005-2010); secretary general of the European Commission (2000-2005); and chief of staff to Commission President Romano Prodi (1999-2000). Before joining the Commission, he started his career with the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1977-1979).

He is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and the College of Europe (Bruges), and holds Honorary Doctorates from the Dublin Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce in 2014.

In November 2019, he joined the Brussels office of the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson LLP as a senior counsellor.

Jeffrey Rathke

Jeff Rathke

President of AGI

Jeffrey Rathke is the President of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC.

Prior to joining AICGS, Jeff was a senior fellow and deputy director of the Europe Program at CSIS, where his work focused on transatlantic relations and U.S. security and defense policy. Jeff joined CSIS in 2015 from the State Department, after a 24-year career as a Foreign Service Officer, dedicated primarily to U.S. relations with Europe. He was director of the State Department Press Office from 2014 to 2015, briefing the State Department press corps and managing the Department's engagement with U.S. print and electronic media. Jeff led the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, he was deputy chief of staff to the NATO Secretary General in Brussels. He also served in Berlin as minister-counselor for political affairs (2006–2009), his second tour of duty in Germany. His Washington assignments have included deputy director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs and duty officer in the White House Situation Room and State Department Operations Center.

Mr. Rathke was a Weinberg Fellow at Princeton University (2003–2004), winning the Master’s in Public Policy Prize. He also served at U.S. Embassies in Dublin, Moscow, and Riga, which he helped open after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Rathke has been awarded national honors by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as several State Department awards. He holds an M.P.P. degree from Princeton University and B.A. and B.S. degrees from Cornell University. He speaks German, Russian, and Latvian.



Peter S. Rashish

Vice President; Director, Geoeconomics Program

Peter S. Rashish, who counts over 25 years of experience counseling corporations, think tanks, foundations, and international organizations on transatlantic trade and economic strategy, is Vice President and Director of the Geoeconomics Program at AICGS. He also writes The Wider Atlantic blog.

Mr. Rashish has served as Vice President for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, where he spearheaded the Chamber’s advocacy ahead of the launch of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Previously, Mr. Rashish was a Senior Advisor for Europe at McLarty Associates, and has held positions as Executive Vice President of the European Institute, on the Paris-based staff of the International Energy Agency, and as a consultant to the World Bank, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Atlantic Council, the Bertelsmann Foundation, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Mr. Rashish has testified on the euro zone and U.S.-European economic relations before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade and the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia and has advised three U.S. presidential campaigns. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Jean Monnet Institute in Paris and a Senior Advisor to the European Policy Centre in Brussels. His commentaries have been published in The New York Times, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, and The National Interest, and he has appeared on PBS, CNBC, CNN, and NPR.

He earned a BA from Harvard College and an M.Phil. in international relations from Oxford University. He speaks French, German, Italian, and Spanish.



Joe Biden’s inauguration as the 46th president of the United States has generated optimism about the prospects for renewing transatlantic relations after the cold front of the Trump years. As the United States moves to rekindle its partnership with the European Union, it needs to make combating the covid-19 pandemic its key focus while also facing up to global challenges like climate change and strategic competition from China. The Biden administration inherits a number of sticking points in the U.S.-EU relationship—subsidies to Boeing and Airbus, taxation of digital companies by EU member states, and U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. But new opportunities for cooperation are also opening up, especially if the two sides can balance short-term conflict management with long-term strategic priorities.

On this episode of The Zeitgeist, AGI’s Jeff Rathke and Peter Rashish discuss with David O’Sullivan, senior counselor at Steptoe & Johnson LLP and former EU Ambassador to the United States, steps that can help the transatlantic relationship make a fresh start with the arrival of the Biden administration. How should the United States and the EU work together to reform the WTO? Can they coordinate efforts to confront Chinese economic behavior while remaining engaged with Beijing where necessary? What could a transatlantic climate policy alignment look like? And can the United States and the European Union find a common approach to Internet platform companies?


Jeff Rathke, President, AGI


David O’Sullivan, Senior Counsellor, Steptoe and Johnson LLP
Peter Rashish, Senior Fellow and Director, Geoeconomics Program

The views expressed are those of the author(s) alone. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the American-German Institute.