Dear Council Leaders, Supporters, and Friends:
Since early this year, the World Affairs Councils of America and a group of prominent think tanks and international affairs organizations led by Business & Strategies Europe, a Brussels-based consultancy, have been pursuing a European Commission tender for the three-year EU Policy and Outreach Partnership (EU POP USA) Project. More than 25 consortia applied to the European Commission and subsequently eight were invited to submit detailed proposals.
I am pleased to inform you that after an intense, highly competitive process the consortium of B&S Europe, WACA, CSIS, Chatham House, GOPA Com, and IREX won approval for the EUR €2,999,246 ($3.34M) tender.
We and our consortium partners demonstrated in our proposal a unique combination of qualifications and strengths to deliver outcomes over three years that would go beyond "one-off" events to forge long-term EU-U.S. cooperation: expert speaker forums in DC and beyond the Beltway; policy research and briefings to targeted stakeholders; study tours; and strategic media engagement.
The amount of funds that will flow from the contract to WACA and to Councils selected to participate in the EU POP USA project, is still to be determined. It will in any case be the largest grant revenue stream, in both absolute and annual terms, in WACA's three-decade history. Reflecting WACA's significant role in the consortium, the contract also allows us to hire a new staff member (see job announcement below).
The United States and the EU are strategic partners across a wide political, economic, and security agenda. Our well-integrated economies together represent nearly half of global GDP. The European Commission recognizes that a strong EU-U.S. partnership is crucial to building a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world. Yet the relationship at times has been taken for granted on both sides, and misunderstandings as well as real policy differences exist.
The coming years will present a number of challenges and opportunities. Brexit, migration, climate change, relations with Russia, trade and the global economy, the U.S. election and America's international role all raise questions for transatlantic cooperation. The efforts by WACA and local World Affairs Councils to convene and inform U.S. audiences and stakeholders about the EU's initiatives and policies are important for finding common ground on which to continue EU-U.S. cooperation.
Timetable and scope
The consortium's planning will accelerate in mid-September, and we expect to announce opportunities for Councils to participate in the project after the November election.
Since 2013, WACA has been fortunate to work on the EU Delegation-funded "EU in the U.S." Program Series. When this project concludes in December, 25 World Affairs Councils will have participated, some multiple times. Compared with that speaker series, the EU POP USA project will be more policy-focused and offer greater geographical reach, with high expectations for program delivery placed on participating Councils. Provision of WACA grant funds to Councils will be commensurate with these greater demands.
WACA is in good company with our EU POP USA partners. I'm confident that this new EU project will provide many tangible and intangible benefits for individual Councils and their communities, as well as the Council network as a whole.
I also especially wish to recognize Althea Georgantas for her excellent work in drafting our part of the winning proposal and in joining me in negotiations with our partners. The support that she, the WACA team, and our Board of Directors provided me to see this across the finish line was invaluable. It is a moment to savor, and, as always, we have some very exciting, important work ahead.
President and CEO