Editor’s Note: As the European Union and the United States launch negotiations on The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, European Affairs inaugurates a series of occasional articles that will chart the progress and assess the implications of this historic initiative.
The interaction between the European unification process towards “an ever closer Union”2 and its most important partner, the “more perfect Union”3 of the United States of America, has been among the top foreign policy issues since the early days of the European project. Equally, helping shape the evolving EU/US relationship has been at the top of my own professional agenda for more than four decades, during which I worked as a close collaborator of European Commission President Jacques Delors, as Director General in charge of External Relations and Political Director for the European Commission, with a stint as the EU Ambassador and Head of the Commission Delegation in the United States from 2000 to 2005. The following are a few thoughts, taken from the background of my personal recollections and practical experience.
The European Institute held a meeting of the Transatlantic Roundtable on Trade on Friday, March 18th, with Hiddo Houben, Counselor and Head of the Trade and Agriculture Section at the Delegation of the European Union. Mr. Houben briefed participants on the current state of EU-U.S. trade relations and highlighted opportunities for increased transatlantic cooperation in an increasingly competitive global environment.
In 2006 European Affairs carried an article by lawyer and former Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Robert Herzstein titled “Don’t Expect the WTO to Resolve the Boeing-Airbus Dispute.” His article was prophetic: nearly five years later, fundamentally nothing has changed.
In his recent article in European Affairs, Airbus consultant Charles Hamilton asserts that, five years after the U.S. filed a case with the World Trade Organization against European government subsidies to Airbus, “nothing has changed.”
On April 1, 2010, The European Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Russian Federation, held a special meeting of its Roundtable on EU-U.S.-Russia Triangular Relations to discuss the prospects and challenges of deepening economic and trade relations with Russia. The Honorable Andrey Denisov, First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation, addressed the need for greater triangular cooperation on a variety of fronts, including energy, technology and innovation, and stressed the importance of the Russian Federation’s accession to the WTO. The Honorable Robert Hormats, Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State asserted American interest in developing stronger trade and investment relationships with Russia and the importance of seizing opportunities for greater technological cooperation. Ambassador Richard Morningstar, the U.S. Secretary of State’s Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy viewed triangular coordination as particularly important in seeking to diversify energy sources and supply on both sides of the Atlantic, and urged continued discussions on diversification, innovation and investment. Angelos Pangratis, Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States encouraged a comprehensive approach, anchored to WTO accession, and cited the EU’s continuing efforts to negotiate a successor to the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, establish a partnership for modernization and stabilize energy relations through a clear legal framework.
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