When President Barack Obama meets the leaders of the 27 countries of the European Union in Prague on 5 April expectations will be high of a renewed transatlantic partnership after the contentious years of the Bush presidency. There is a sense, particularly in Europe, that in the soft-power domain where the EU excels there will be clear opportunities to see eye to eye with the new US administration. Climate change, human rights and development are among the issues where opportunities exist for the US and the EU to work more closely together for multilateral solutions.In the current environment, however, it is hard to imagine that the US-EU relationship will live up to its billing under the Obama presidency unless it is able to help the world to emerge from the ongoing economic crisis. While the G20 summit of advanced and emerging economies that met in London yesterday addressed the crisis, only a handful of EU members were present. And the NATO summit in France and Germany today and tomorrow will focus on hard-power issues like Afghanistan where the EU does not claim competence.In order for Washington and Brussels to move their relationship forward, and for the Prague gathering to be more than an afterthought, the meeting in the Czech capital needs to help point a way out of the current economic turmoil. This is all the more important given the tone of the transatlantic discussion in the run-up to the G20 summit. The summit did find considerable common ground, notably on the need for enhanced authority and resources for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and a new trade finance package to help keep exports flowing. But the differences of emphasis that emerged between the US and the EU over the balance to be struck between economic stimulus and regulation of financial markets as a way out of the crisis still need to be addressed. While there are broad areas of convergence in economic thinking between the two sides of the Atlantic, distinct points of reference persist. The US harks back to the activist fiscal response of President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Germans, above all, take the hyperinflation of the 1920s as an object lesson, while the eurozone as a whole remains wary of forsaking the fiscal discipline of the Stability and Growth Pact. And as the recent adoption of a €50 emergency aid package for EU members who lack the buffer of eurozone membership demonstrates, many in the EU prefer a targeted stimulus to spending measures that are less focused.Despite the emergence of new economic powers such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia, the world is unlikely to move forward out of the economic crisis without US-European agreement and leadership. While transatlantic differences that linger after the London G20 cannot be smoothed out overnight, Obama and his 27 EU counterparts at the Prague summit can begin that process. Why not task the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), which next meets in May, to identify common ground between the US and European approaches to the crisis? Given the TEC’s focus, the issue of cross-border regulation of financial markets would be a natural choice, among other issues. The US and the EU together constitute 60% of the global economy, so whatever conclusions that process produces are unlikely to go unnoticed in the G20 and beyond. And raising the importance of the TEC in this way would constitute the kind of vote of confidence in the US-EU relationship that many in Europe have been expecting since the US election last November. Peter S. Rashish is senior advisor for Europe at McLarty Associates, an international strategic advisory firm in Washington, DC.