Every week leading experts answer a new question from Judy Dempsey on the international challenges shaping Europe's role in the world.

Stephen F. Szaboexecutive director, Transatlantic Academy

Europe needs to recognize the new nature of the transatlantic relationship which is increasingly one of partnership and shared responsibility. The old pattern of the United States proposing and Europe reacting needs to be replaced by a more active European approach. The second Obama administration will be led by convinced Atlanticists. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, Obama’s nominees for Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense, are keenly aware of the importance of Europe to U.S. foreign policy. The recent clear signals from the administration to Britain regarding the cost to the U.S.-UK relationship of a diminished British role in the EU are evidence that the new Obama team wants a strong European partner. The obvious test case will be the proposed Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement, a policy area that lies squarely in the competence of the Commission and therefore is amenable to a unified position and strong European leadership. Europe should not miss this opportunity to reshape and revitalize a vital partnership.