The EU-US Summit - Strengthening transatlantic cooperation

5 December 2011

The recent EU-US summit was extremely productive and focused primarily on economic issues, giving EU leaders the opportunity to brief US President Barack Obama on the steps that the European Union is taking to address the crisis that is gripping Europe, said William E. Kennard, the US Ambassador to the EU.

“We’re in a dramatic phase of the euro crisis and President Obama is very interested in what the EU is doing to resolve it,” Kennard said.

“We don’t think it’s helpful to add our solutions to the cacophony of voices publicly. We give our advice privately behind closed doors,” he added.

Kennard said the US and Europe should be looking to harness the power of their economies to boost growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Amid the crisis, “don’t lose sight of the need for economic reform to boost long-term sustainable growth,” he advised.

The Transatlantic Economic Council can be reinvigorated by focusing on the potential “transforming economies of the future”: like smart grids and electric cars, the ambassador argued.

Indeed, at the EU-US summit the decision was taken to set up a Working Group on Jobs and Growth. The Working Group will solicit ideas from businesspeople, consumers, Congress and the European Parliament, he explained.

“We need to inject more ambition into our relationship,” Kennard said.

“Let’s be creative and think differently. There’s a greater sense of urgency now we have new competitors in the East. Our relationship is facing new and dynamic challenges. But it’s already so vast that we’re wasting it by not doing more,” he claimed.

He cited striking an EU-US free-trade agreement in the absence of a Doha deal and finding more futuristic industries on which to work together as potential areas of future transatlantic cooperation.

“We’re seeing the benefits of the post-Lisbon environment. The US now has permanent interlocutors in Van Rompuy and Ashton. Foreign policy cooperation has been very good recently: take Libya, for example,” he added.

Kennard concluded that both parties should seek to deepen ties by leveraging their relationship more effectively.