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 You are in: Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs > Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs > All Remarks and Releases > Remarks > 2003

The U.S.- European Union Relationship

E. Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs
Remarks to the European Institute
Washington, DC
September 9, 2003

Thank you for the opportunity to join you this evening and to share an American perspective on the relationship between the United States and the European Union – and to discuss areas where the U.S.-EU relationship is working effectively as well as a few areas where more progress is necessary. Countless observers have remarked upon the extraordinarily complex relationship between the United States and Europe and the difficulties inherent in managing such a relationship. It is truly a unique relationship – uniquely broad, uniquely multifaceted, uniquely deep, and uniquely balanced.

I have had the good fortune to spend much of my professional career closely engaged in that relationship. Obviously, the United States and Europe share a vast array of common values and objectives. Given the extraordinary breadth of our relationship, however – touching virtually every issue of importance to each of us -- it is inevitable that differences in perspectives and approaches will arise.

As we approach the second anniversary of September 11, 2001, we need to acknowledge that those terrorist attacks which killed thousands, including almost 500 foreign nationals from 91 other countries, in New York, Washington, and a field in Pennsylvania profoundly changed U.S. perspectives and priorities. These changes have posed opportunities and challenges to transatlantic relations. Together, we have met many of those challenges. We’re still working on others. Let me say, however, that the United States is grateful for the close and productive cooperation with Europe in countering terrorism in the wake of September 11.

Life in the Same Global Boat, Facing Many of the Same Threats and Challenges

Given the much discussed, much analyzed “transatlantic rift,” we should recognize up front that life in the same global boat, facing transnational threats such as international terrorism, is hard. Many questions have no easy answers. We need to acknowledge that our shared values and extensive economic ties will continue to bind our transatlantic partnership, even when trusted partners disagree on approaches on how best to meet shared and individual threats.

While trade is an important component in our relationship, with total trade across the Atlantic reaching nearly $500 billion a year, it is just one part of our extensive economic relationship. EU member states supply the U.S. with 65% of our foreign investment, and the U.S. supplies 45% of European foreign investment. Our investments in each other’s economies are long-term expressions of confidence in our relationship, which goes far beyond the economic arena.

EU Enlargement

We are excited about prospects of EU enlargement, and welcome the addition of ten new EU members in May 2004. While EU enlargement brings additional issues and complexity to the transatlantic relationship, we have enthusiastically supported EU enlargement and celebrate the prospect of a larger European Union which will be a force for greater security and prosperity throughout the region. Less than fifteen years ago, eight of the ten states acceding to the EU were still trapped behind the Iron Curtain. Now they are democracies with market economies and on May 1 will become members of the European Union.

Together, we -- the U.S., EU and accession states -- have successfully resolved some of the issues raised by enlargement. For example, we are very pleased that on September 2 the European Commission endorsed a political understanding preserving U.S. bilateral investment treaties, and the protections they provide U.S. investors, with eight countries that are acceding, or are candidates for accession, to the European Union (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Bulgaria and Romania).

As we move into fall, we in the United States will watch with great interest how an Intergovernmental Conference will bring together EU members to turn the constitutional draft produced by the Convention on the Future of Europe into a treaty which shapes the future of a larger, more diverse European Union. One important element of that process is how the EU engages with the rest of the world; none of us benefits if the EU becomes too inward-looking and self-absorbed. We all need an outward-looking, globally engaged EU as a global partner.

Managing Change

As the European Union enlarges and begins to develop additional capabilities, our relationship is certain to change. Managing change is often frustrating, but these changes present challenges and opportunities. We must rise to the challenges and together, make the most of the opportunities.

Areas in Which U.S.-EU Relationship Is Working Effectively

Despite differences relating to the war in Iraq, anyone observing the U.S.-European relationship in the last two years would be struck by the close cooperation we have had on counter-terrorism efforts, non-proliferation, and various regional issues. We had a good U.S.-EU Summit in June here in Washington, where we adopted concrete measures to increase our cooperation on non-proliferation, energy, and counter-terrorism.

Counter-terrorism

Our counter-terrorism cooperation can be seen in:

  • The signing of extradition and mutual legal assistance treaties, giving law enforcement on both sides of the Atlantic new tools for fighting terrorism and other serious crimes;
  • The establishment of a EUROPOL liaison with U.S. law enforcement and negotiation of a data privacy agreement to facilitate the exchange of personal data and information on suspects; and
  • Effective collaboration with law enforcement authorities in EU member states, which has resulted in the arrest and disruption of a number of terrorist cells.

PNR: Passenger Name Record

One of the issues we're working hard to resolve relates to airline passenger information that's essential to our efforts to combat terrorism. We are looking at how to bridge our national security need for information with European concerns about data privacy. This is not an easy issue, and perspective differ on how to strike a balance. Critical to success, however, is that we maintain dialogue and work hard to understand each other's concerns.

Countering Terrorism Financing

In addition to our efforts to take down terrorist cells, our work together in shutting down the financing of terrorist groups and in freezing their assets has been excellent. We welcome, in this regard, the EU's decision to designate Hamas, in its entirety, as a terrorist organization. Hamas has consistently undermined the prospects of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, something the EU and the U.S. have both worked very hard trying to achieve over the past decade. We hope the EU will now follow up on its decision by freezing the assets of those groups raising money for Hamas in Europe.

Non-Proliferation

The United States and Europe agree on the need to halt proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and nuclear weapons. At the June 25 Summit, the U.S. and EU pledged cooperation on a joint work program to combat the proliferation of dangerous weapons. We both agreed to implement the following measures:

  • Making the IAEA Additional Protocol a standard for international nuclear cooperation and non-proliferation;
  • Supporting an increase in the IAEA safeguards budget;
  • Tightening enforcement and implementation of national export controls on dangerous materials and technology;
  • Strengthening national controls over dangerous pathogens and fostering the elimination of chemical weapons.

We agreed on the necessity for criminal penalties in national control regimes for the illegal export, transport, or brokering of weapons of mass destruction, missile delivery systems, and related materials and technology. Without strengthened export control regimes, we are unlikely to achieve our shared goal of halting proliferation of materials and technology sought by terrorists to threaten our security and disrupt our open societies.

Regional Issues

On various regional issues, we have been most successful when we have been able to find a common approach to tackle transnational threats together.

Iran/North Korea

The joint U.S.-EU Summit statement of June 25 condemned the nuclear programs in both Iran and North Korea and expressed shared determination to ensure their compliance with international non-proliferation obligations. Given the important historic ties between Iran and several European member states, the European Union has a critical role in convincing Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions and immediately sign and implement the IAEA Additional Protocol. With Iran having demonstrated its commitment to develop both nuclear capabilities and sophisticated missile technology, it is vital that the international community intensify its efforts to prevent further proliferation of these dangerous weapons.

MEPP

Despite tragic recent events, the U.S. and EU continue to coordinate approaches with the objective of achieving a sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians. We have worked closely with the EU to develop an agreed roadmap which – if followed by both sides – can lead to an independent Palestinian state living in peace with neighboring Israel. The EU took an important step recently to cut off the financing which funds Hamas attacks on innocent civilians. We need to continue to work together to find ways to support the efforts of the Palestinian leadership to halt extremist attacks.

The Balkans

U.S. and EU cooperation has helped bring stability to the region. EU assumption of peacekeeping duties with forces established under the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), which the U.S. strongly supports, is a significant achievement.

Afghanistan

We have worked very constructively together to help Afghans begin to reconstruct a country leveled by decades of strife. German, Dutch, and U.K. forces have served as International Security Assistance Force lead. While not an exhaustive list of U.S.-European cooperation in Afghanistan, we see that:

  • The U.S., France, and others are helping to train and equip a new Afghan National Army.
  • Germany, with American assistance, is helping to rebuild the Afghan police force.
  • Italy has been working to reform the Afghan judicial sector.

Civil Aviation

Another area for cooperation is civil aviation. Negotiators from the United States and EU will meet in Washington on October 1-2 to begin comprehensive air services negotiations. We look forward to these negotiations and will work hard, with EU experts, to build on the market-oriented Open Skies framework we have already achieved with eleven of the fifteen Member States.

Areas in Which More Progress in U.S.-EU Cooperation is Necessary

Iraq Reconstruction

Although the U.S. and its European allies were unable to reach complete consensus on the war in Iraq – given divisions within Europe on the issue -- there is growing consensus that the successful reconstruction of Iraq is vital for stability in the Middle East and gains in the War on Terrorism. This is a huge task. The President on September 8 said he would ask Congress for $87 billion for Iraq, including $20 billion for that country's reconstruction.

We are working very closely with European and other allies now to find mechanisms which will allow more countries to work together to help the Iraqi people rebuild their country after years of misrule and neglect. In the last week, we have had good discussions in Brussels and in New York about the establishment of one or two trust funds, which would be separate from, but coordinated with, the Development Fund for Iraq, and which may facilitate participation by others in Iraq’s reconstruction.

We are working closely with Europe, other allies, and with the UN and multilateral financial institutions to ensure that the Ministerial-level Donors’ Conference to be held October 23-24 in Madrid will mark broadened international participation in helping Iraq rebuild. With developments such as the appointment of new Cabinet members by the Governing Council last week, we see important steps towards our ultimate goal of turning all political responsibilities over to Iraqis.

Trade

The Doha Development Agenda and the current trade round reflect our shared understanding that the United States and Europe, along with other developed and developing countries, must work together to find ways to promote global economic growth and help alleviate the poverty which feeds discontent in too many corners of the world. Agreements on enhancing poor countries' access to needed medicines and a U.S. and EU agriculture framework were extremely difficult to conclude, but leave us well positioned to make progress at the Cancun Ministerial. Continued reform and liberalization in the agricultural area will be key to the success of the Doha Development Agenda and essential to successful conclusion of the round.

Slow Growth/Regulation

As much of the world has struggled to emerge from the global economic downturn of the past three years, we have all recognized the need to stimulate growth. Most observers have recognized that -- unlike in the 1990s -- the U.S. cannot be the sole engine of global economic growth. We need more partners, especially key players like the EU and Japan, rowing in that shared boat.

The current weak Eurozone economy – in which several European member states remain stuck in recession – presents an opportunity to address fundamental problems which have slowed growth in Europe, including rigid labor markets and excessive regulation. In these slower growth economic conditions, it is vital that the U.S. and its European partners work to narrow differences in our regulatory approaches.

We have heard from the business community on both sides of the Atlantic – and beyond – that the costs of trying to comply with significantly different regulatory regimes is becoming an increasingly large burden, reducing competitiveness and diminishing growth and employment creation. Differences in regulatory approaches in chemicals, beef hormones, poultry, financial services, accounting and biotech are some of the areas in which we need to do more to bridge our differences in regulatory approaches.

This isn’t an abstract scientific debate; diverging and counterproductive regulations affect people’s lives around the world – jobs, prices, and consumer confidence. A more active TransAtlantic Business Dialogue can help governments identify ways in which our differing regulatory approaches can be narrowed. Our other Transatlantic dialogues (Legislative, Consumer, and Labor) have the potential to make similar contributions.

ICC (International Criminal Court)/Kyoto

While we share common values and view many problems in similar ways, we have seen instances in which we have been unable to reach agreement on a common approach to solving those problems. Our challenge to manage our differences over such issues as the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol is to exchange views openly and honestly, to discuss differences, and to find ways in which we can coordinate action to achieve shared goals.

Going Forward

We are optimistic that working together, we will be able to reach agreement on a new United Nations Security Council Resolution which will facilitate our efforts to help the Iraqi people reconstruct their country and build a stable, successful new government which represents all Iraqis. Working together, we stand a better chance of achieving our shared objectives. The global challenges we both face are too great to allow ourselves to indulge in sniping or schadenfreude, or become distracted from our broadly shared objectives and agreements by differences at the margins.

If we’re honest with ourselves and with each other, we must accept that there is no real option but to work together to try to make this world a safer, more prosperous place. As our common bonds helped us meet the many challenges of the 20th century, together we must and will find ways to meet the challenges of the 21st century. As President Bush acknowledged at a press conference following the U.S.-EU Summit in June:

“Since the end of World War II, the United States has strongly supported European unity as the best path to European peace and prosperity. We believe, as well, that strong ties between America and Europe are essential to peace and the prosperity of the world.”


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