EU, US to focus on stronger economic ties
27 April 2007, Brussels/Berlin (dpa) - Efforts to forge stronger trans-Atlantic economic ties will top the agenda of a summit between the European Union and United States next week, officials from both sides said ahead of the talks. EU officials say the 27-nation bloc wants to press the US to curb greenhouse gas emissions but the summit's key aim is to build a trade and investment partnership between the two economic giants. The summit in Washington on April 30 is expected to be attended by US President Ge
27 April 2007
Brussels/Berlin (dpa) - Efforts to forge stronger trans-Atlantic economic ties will top the agenda of a summit between the European Union and United States next week, officials from both sides said ahead of the talks.
EU officials say the 27-nation bloc wants to press the US to curb greenhouse gas emissions but the summit's key aim is to build a trade and investment partnership between the two economic giants.
The summit in Washington on April 30 is expected to be attended by US President George W Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, representing the current German EU presidency, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
Merkel has said she wants to harmonize US and EU laws and regulations in a bid to boost investments and business. Barroso also insists the two sides must work harder to cement their economic ties.
The EU-US economic relationship is "healthy, prosperous and deep- rooted," Barroso wrote recently in the International Herald Tribune. "But we believe there remains enormous potential untapped," he added.
Experts say the introduction of common standards for goods such as cars and pharmaceuticals and new rules for financial markets and intellectual property laws could boost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the two economic blocs by 3.5 per cent.
Trade between the EU and US is estimated at 1.7 billion dollars a day. Two-thirds of global investment flows into the US come from from Europe and were worth about 60 billion dollars in 2005. Together, the EU and the US account for 60 per cent of world trade.
Seeking to ease concerns that the two economic mammoths are ganging up against the rest of the world, EU and US officials insist that the planned economic partnership deal is not a substitute for the stalled Doha round of World Trade Organization (WTO) talks, aimed at liberalising global trade.
The summit in Washington will task a special team to negotiate a new agreement on transatlantic ties. EU industry commissioner Guenter Verheugen will represent the EU in the negotiations.
EU officials also said that a draft agreement over climate protection measures and energy policy had been drawn up and that there were "no significant problems" in clinching a final deal.
US envoy to the EU C Boyden Gray told reporters the summit would not be a "particularly defining moment" on tackling climate change, but rather part of a series of international meetings on the issue.
Climate change could only be effectively dealt with once countries such as China and India came on board, he added.
"We need to get the emerging economies engaged, they will become major emitters (of greenhouse gases) soon," Gray said.
Washington's long-standing opposition to caps on carbon emissions is a major irritant in trans-Atlantic relations.
Seeking to be global leaders on the issues, EU governments recently vowed bold action to curb greenhouse-gas emissions and increase renewable energy use.
Europeans consider the negotiation of a global pact on carbon caps to replace the Kyoto treaty after 2012 vital for trans-Atlantic ties. The US has not signed the Kyoto accord.
The EU also wants to pressure the US on lifting visa restrictions on citizens from the bloc's new eastern member states.
Gray said that legislation to include all EU nationals in the US visa-waiver programme could be finalized by the end of this year.
The US does not require visas from citizens of the EU's old member states, but Greeks and most citizens of the 10 new EU countries that joined the bloc in 2004 have to apply for a visa. Slovenia is the only new EU member state to be part of the US visa scheme.
Other issues on the summit's agenda include efforts to defuse the nuclear standoff with Iran and UN proposals for supervised independence for Serbia's breakaway region Kosovo. Washington and Brussels are working closely together on both issues.
EU and US leaders are also expected to discuss NATO efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, the worsening crisis in Iraq and the conflict in Sudan's Darfur province.
In addition, Europeans hope for US moves on the liberalization of trans-Atlantic aviation and concessions in a controversial agreement on the sharing of passenger data.
Subject: German news