M.A. in Political Science, European Union Policy Studies

JMU Wins 2-Year EU Grant

TRACK-STAR to help rebuild the transatlantic relationship

JMU European Union Grant

 By Christina Craver

In mid-2020, James Madison University teamed up with Waterford Institute of Technology in Ireland, and the Lares Institute, a think tank in California, to write and submit an EU grant proposal. Project TRACK-STAR, short for “Transatlantic civil society dialogues with key policy stakeholders”, aims to reinvigorate and support transatlantic policy covering a wide range of topics including climate change; energy; circular economy and biodiversity; democracy and transparency; digital economy; trade and investment; and regulatory cooperation. The two-year project foresees the development of a mutually beneficial collaboration platform between EU and US civil society organizations to stimulate policy dialogue in EU-US relations.

Ultimately, the proposal made the shortlist for the EU-US: Getting to Know Europe, Transatlantic Civil Society Dialogue & Building Partnership on the Future of Work (EuropeAid/168605/DD/ACT/US) Action Grant, and in December 2020 was awarded a €400,000 contract. The announcement indeed came at an opportune time as the EU presented its “new EU-US agenda for global change”. “We are taking the initiative to design a new transatlantic agenda fit for today's global landscape,” commented Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President.  “The transatlantic alliance is based on shared values and history, but also interests: building a stronger, more peaceful and more prosperous world. When the transatlantic partnership is strong, the EU and the US are both stronger. It is time to reconnect with a new agenda for transatlantic and global cooperation for the world of today.” JMU, and more specifically the EUPS Program, look to actively contribute to a “reboot” of the transatlantic partnership.

JMU, led by Dr. Charles Blake, director of the EU Policy Studies program, is responsible for a little over half of the project. Graduate students in the EUPS program will be an integral part of TRACK-STAR with two students serving as graduate assistants to support the work of the overall Steering Committee for the project. Seven additional students will, in turn, work as rapporteurs supporting the different working groups. This work will begin with the current EUPS Class of 2021, continue throughout the Class of 2022, and then conclude with the fall semester of the Class of 2023. Beyond the life of the grant itself, EUPS graduate students in future years will support the evolution of the TRACK-STAR website, updating it to reflect the status of policy advocacy and policy-making in these seven important issue areas. 

Ultimately, the dialogues facilitated by TRACK-STAR will increase understanding of European, US, and transatlantic efforts and help improve feedback loops linking society with policymakers. EUPS students will have the opportunity to bring their studies full circle as they support policymaking in Europe and in the United States in real-time as they help to make connections among interest group leaders as well as between interest groups and government officials. As the project moves forward, updates and results will be published on an on-going basis on the project’s official website: http://www.track-star.eu/.

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Published: Monday, February 1, 2021

Last Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2021

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