The European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) have decided to further deepen their economic cooperation. A transatlantic economic partnership will reduce bureaucratic obstacles and harmonize differing standards and conditions. Both sides also agree that climate protection must be improved.
During the EU-US Summit in Washington Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President George W. Bush and Commission President José Manuel Barroso underlined the significance of their new level of economic cooperation. "It’s a good day for EU-US relations", Chancellor Merkel stated.
She thanked President Bush for the "substantial progress in such a short time". This would not have been possible without the President’s commitment.
All three made it clear that they wanted the current Doha round of global trade talks to succeed. The transatlantic economic community was not directed against these negotiations aimed at reducing tariff barriers.
Chancellor Merkel explained that the harmonization of standards, for example in car construction (crash tests) or drug registration, would save costs on both sides of the Atlantic. It was important, she continued, to improve the EU’s and the US’s competitiveness vis-à-vis the emerging countries.
The establishment of a Transatlantic Economic Council will create a forum designed to monitor the agreements and enable swifter progress. The European side will appoint Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen as its Co-Chairman, while the American Co-Chairman will be Allan Hubbard from the Executive Office of the President.
Climate change is a global challenge
Chancellor Merkel was sure that the agreement on energy and climate protection was a "significant step forward". She emphasized that such an agreement would have been much more difficult to negotiate last year. Bush stated that there was a global problem with greenhouse gases and dependence on oil. Now, with new technologies and international cooperation, this problem was being decisively addressed.
Both sides agreed that a "swift global policy" was needed to combat climate change. In the declaration they commit themselves to "the ultimate objective of stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system".
Chancellor Merkel underlined that the problem of climate change, due to its global dimension, could not be solved without the emerging countries. "We must convince others", she said. The declaration therefore commits the two sides to continue cooperation with other countries. For example, the fight against climate change is to feature on the agenda both at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm and during other multilateral talks. At the UN conference in Indonesia in December, during which the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol will be discussed, a constructive agenda is to be promoted.
Flying will become easier
In the margins of the Summit an EU-US Air Transport Agreement was signed by the transport ministers and the responsible Commission Vice-President, Jacques Barrot. This "open skies treaty" will give European airlines better access to the US market. In turn, US airlines will be able to fly directly to and from European airports.
This is also good for consumers on both sides of the Atlantic: More connections will mean that the price of tickets will fall.
Support from business
During her visit to the US capital Chancellor Merkel will deliver an economic-policy speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, which has from the start welcomed and supported the Chancellor’s initiative for a new transatlantic economic partnership.
The US Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business association, representing over 3,000 local chambers with 3 million members –from small businesses to major companies. The Chamber lobbies all government bodies in Washington in favour of business and free enterprise.
America and Europe: linked by the Atlantic
The Chancellor will also officially hand over the “Waldseemüller Map” to the Library of Congress. In 1507 the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller drew the first comprehensive map of the world.
This map was the first to give the new continent the name America. The ceremony is excellent evidence of the close nature of the German-American friendship.
Participating in the Summit on the European side, apart from Chancellor Merkel, were Federal Ministers Steinmeier, Glos und Tiefensee for the German Government. For the Commission, apart from President Barroso, Vice-Presidents Verheugen and Barrot and Commissioners Mandelson and Ferrero-Waldner took part. High Representative Javier Solana was of course also in the delegation.
On the American side, apart from the President, among others Secretary of State Rice, Treasury Secretary Paulson and Attorney General Gonzales took part.
The annual EU-US Summits provide an opportunity to take regular stock of EU-US relations. They also allow cooperation to be further developed. The Summits take place alternately in Washington and Europe, and were established in 1990. The last Summit was held in 2006 in Vienna.