Prominent German Industrialist, Jurgen Thumann, Strongly Supports Continuity of the Transatlantic Economic Council     Print Email
Friday, 12 December 2008

Opening the meeting, Joelle Attinger, President of the European Institute, stressed the need to strengthen the economic partnership between the U.S. and Europe.

Even amid the acute current economic slump, the U.S. global trade deficit with grew by 1.1 percent in October – a reminder of the need for maintaining strong transatlantic cooperation.

She introduced the keynote speaker, Jurgen Thumann, the European Co-Chair of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue and CEO of Heitkamp and Thumann. She noted his continued outstanding business success as a transatlantic entrepreneur in the steel and plastics industry.

Mr. Thumann stressed the importance of “synergy” between the US and the EU on trade and broader economic cooperation. “The current global recession”, stated Mr. Thumann, “will force the US and the EU to closely examine the importance of transatlantic business dialogue.” In confronting the current crisis, he said, “the roots of the crisis are not European, but it will do no good to ‘fingerpoint.’”

In presenting the European perspective to an audience of 80 participants, he frequently invoked the German perspective – notably Berlin’s conviction about the need for continued support for the Transatlantic Economic Council by the incoming U.S. administration and by the new president of the EU, the Czech Republic. For example, he said, transactions between US and EU businesses already account to 1.7 billion euros a day and that impressive figure could be raised by three per cent if all remaining non-tariff and similar barriers could be removed – a process that could be encouraged by the TEC.

In his talk at the European Institute, Mr. Thumann often developed points made in a letter he released earlier the same day to Daniel Price, the U.S. head of the TEC and Gunter Verheugen (who is the Vice President of the European Commission, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry), European head of the TEC (they are due to meet the following day with the Transatlantic Business Dialogue in Washington, DC, for one of their annual meetings). Thumann stressed continued support for the TEC while administrations are changing, adding that, from Europe’s viewpoint, the incoming Obama administration “must support this relationship.” In his letter to Mr. Price (who is Assistant to the President for International Economic Affairs and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs), Thumann, along with James Quigley suggested three priorities on the TEC:

1. Renew focus on innovation and investment, especially in energy, healthcare, and aviation, which are key issues for transatlantic cooperation in 2009

2. Use regulation in a positive way to stimulate economic growth, innovation and sustainability without diminishing global competitiveness of American and European business

3. Expand the focus of the TEC to include energy and climate change and adopt a robust work plan to drive transatlantic collaboration

Mr. Thumann added the experience and strength of the transatlantic dialogue and marketplace make him “confident” that the EU and the US, working together, will succeed in surmounting the crisis. “I am confident we will succeed,” concluded Mr. Thumann.