On November 9, 2010, Jean-Arthur Régibeau, Political Director of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offered his perspective on the emergence of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and its impact on the transatlantic relationship. Under Belgium’s rotating Presidency of the European Union, implementation of the Lisbon Treaty has been a top priority, and the steady evolution of the EEAS is a notable accomplishment. High Representative Catherine Ashton has selected her senior management team, which will lead the formation of a European diplomatic corps; a process which Mr. Régibeau estimated will take three to four years. Members of the EEAS will consist of highly-qualified officials from all of the EU institutions and Member States, and it will aim to have a fair representation of men and women, as well as diplomats from each Member State. They will report directly to the High Representative; a line of command that Mr. Régibeau argued will provide a unifying element and allow the service to be more than the sum of its parts. However, he cautioned, the commensurate evolution of a common European foreign policy may take as long as a decade. In time, however, the EEAS and its mpact on the EU’s foreign policy may eventually be comparable to that of the European Monetary Union.

On September 30, 2010, The European Institute held its Annual Meeting of the Members and Board of Advisors at the Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.  Discussions focused on U.S. and European efforts to enact comprehensive financial regulatory measures, strengthen economic governance and spur sustainable economic growth. Moderated by Timothy Keeler, Counsel at Mayer Brown LLP, the expert panel included Mark Sobel, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Finance at the U.S. Department of the Treasury; Antonio de Lecea, Minister - Principal Advisor for Economic and Financial Affairs at the Delegation of the European Union; Matthias Sonn, Minister of Economics and Science at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany; and Jeffrey Skeer, International Relations Specialist in the Office of Policy and International Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy.

The panel was followed by a dinner and a lively discussion with David Mark, Senior Editor at Politico and Politico.com, about the U.S. Mid-Term Elections and their Potential Implications.

Despite populist pressures to curtail its powers, the U.S. Federal Reserve System is now certain to remain fully independent of direct political interference in setting U.S. monetary policy. Moreover, its supervisory and regulatory powers will be extended to non-bank financial institutions (although it will have to work more collegially with other Federal regulators in this area).

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Initiative Underscores New Reach of This EU Institution

Keen to exercise some new muscle gained in the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has been quick off the mark to send its own man to Washington to work with Congress. The new liaison office – an overseas first for the parliament – will be formally inaugurated in the U.S. capital at the end of April. This initiative has long been encouraged by proponents of denser dialogue between Brussels and Washington, who have long pressed the need for more contacts between legislators from the EU and Washington. (A matching U.S. initiative, to open a Congressional office in Brussels, has always fallen on deaf ears on Capitol Hill.)

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Ugly Language Aggravates Tensions

In the corridors outside President Obama’s nuclear summit, much of the talk was not about nuclear matters but instead about how the Greek economic crisis has metastasized into a quarrel between Germany and France and now jeopardizes the prospects for more effective European unity. So a crisis that began in Greece has mutated to be about Germany and its commitment to Europe, as described in this New York Times article that has attracted attention and discussion in Washington.

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