European Affairs

In Helping Poor Countries,Actions Speak Louder than Words     Print Email

A striking aspect of U.S.-European relations over the past decade is that despite important political differences, we have increasingly cooperated in practical ways to help people in poorer parts of the world transform their lives and societies. It is one thing to sit and talk about foreign policy; it is another to make it happen.

In recent years, in Afghanistan, in Haiti, and even in Iraq, we have worked closely together when it comes to helping people, reconstructing damaged infrastructure, and feeding the hungry. We have also, of course, worked with multilateral banks, the UN and other key donors. But when there is a crisis like the recent tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the United States thinks of the European Union as one of its first key partners.

There is also a remarkable degree of agreement that we must consider security, trade, health and development as integrated elements of a single, common approach. It is not always easy.With separate bureaucracies and government structures on either side of the Atlantic, it takes hard work to achieve an integrated policy. Increasingly, however, Europeans and Americans are working together to do so.

We agree on the importance of meeting the internationally-agreed goals contained in the Millennium Declaration by forming solid partnerships with developing countries and mobilizing all the resources available for development. Those include trade, investment, remittances, domestic savings and Official Development Assistance (ODA).

The United States has paid a great deal of attention to development assistance during the past four years.We nearly doubled ODA from $10 billion in 2000 to $19 billion in 2004. During that same period, we quadrupled our assistance to Africa, and we hope to do more in the years ahead.

We need to leverage that increased aid with the efforts of the developing countries themselves if we are really to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and promote secure investment in the lives of their citizens. Such an effort, of course, will take time and we must keep pressing forward in a sustained manner.

Among the many other areas in which we are cooperating, the G8 has selected four pilot countries - Indonesia, Zambia, Paraguay and Kyrgyzstan - to improve business environments. We are also implementing compacts with Nigeria, Peru, Nicaragua and Georgia to fight corruption and increase transparency. And we are trying to bring the countries of the broader Middle East and North Africa fully into the international economic system, lay the groundwork for increased investment, and allow them to benefit from the trade, technology and educational opportunities which come with international trade and investment.

As the United States and European Union expand our cooperation, we can broaden these efforts to include other governments and regions around the world that are ready, willing and eager to participate.

We are also working with the World Food Program to improve U.S.-EU collaboration on food security. In Ethiopia, for example, we are cooperating on a long-term “safety net” system for providing food and, together with our African partners, we are hosting an international conference in Ghana to help increase food production in Africa. Europeans and Americans also agree they must take the lead in improving health in developing countries, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

There are a significant number of other areas in which the United States and the European Union are working together, and there is great potential for this partnership in the future, particularly if we keep focusing on doing things, rather than just talking about them.

E. Anthony Wayne is Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, responsible for formulating and carrying out U.S. foreign economic policy and integrating U.S. economic interests with U.S. foreign policy.


This article was published in European Affairs: Volume number 6, Issue number 1-2 in the Winter/Spring of 2005.

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