It’s a $4 trillion economic partnership; of course we’re the best of friends. The US-EU tango is led by the strong beat of liberal democracy and elevated by accordion key changes; though, unless you press the right buttons it’s just hot air going back and forward. The United States benefits greatly from increased engagement with the European Union, said U.S. Ambassador to the EU, William E. Kennard. It’s what Europe was waiting to hear, she was swept off her feet.
Brian Maguire, European Business Express, 28.11.2012 Ambassador Kennard was addressing the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), Tuesday 27th November. He said the United States has: “…worked very hard during the last four years to deepen our relationship with all of the EU institutions, in particular with the European Parliament… During [President Obama’s] first term, there was a remarkable alignment of our foreign policy priorities with Europe and we expect that will continue into the second term.” In conversation with MEPs, Kennard added: “The scope of our work together is broad and deep… Each day, we are working on – literally – hundreds of matters, many of which involve the most pressing challenges facing the world…Of course, there is always more to be done, but as we take stock of the President’s first term, I know that my government has benefited greatly from our increased engagement with the EU.” Kennard cited support for emerging democracies as a good example of US-EU cooperation, together with partnerships countering global threats; coordinating assistance to the world’s most vulnerable populations; and exploration of ways to increase U.S.-EU economic and regulatory cooperation. He volunteered that the support of the European Union was greatly valued by the US in difficult arenas such as the regional integration of Afghanistan, especially in preparation for the key Afghan transition point in 2014; stability in the Balkans; air cargo and passenger security; the advancement of democracy in Libya; the prevention and control of weapons of mass destruction, in particular, with respect to North Korea. US Development and aid projects, most notably in Africa, have been delivered with assistance from the EU; Kennard spoke of US-EU cooperation inNairobi,Dakarand other African countries, where he admitted EU relations and information were sometimes stronger than American capacity on the ground. Responding to MEP’s questions, Ambassador Kennard remarked that Europeans should not read too much into so little mention ofEuropeduring the recent election campaign. It was, he said, not usual for America to be mentioned in European elections either; elections are essentially about pocket-book issues, the economy, taxes – try telling that to the British, the high-maintenance damsel in occasional distress, constantly in need of reassurance that she remains America’s truest love. Internet freedom and the digital economy was raised by Marietje Schaake, MEP, prompting Kennard, a former chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission, to remark that internet freedom is best left to stakeholders and not to governments. Kennard also addressed MEPs concerns relating to lack of progress on climate change. He said this was a matter President Obama hoped to advance more during his second term, and he thought it possible to do so despite Republican control of the House of Representatives. Responding to an exhortation by Hans-Gert Pöttering, MEP, for President Obama to visit the European Parliament – the last US President to visit was Ronald Reagan in 1985 – Kennard said he truly hoped this would be possible and he was working to make it so, though he couldn’t promise. And there, the music faded. The suitor promising that maybe, just maybe, his friend might lead a quick-step in Parliament next year, but that it kinda depends on who stands on his toes as the fiscal cliff draws closer. MEPs sighed, the relationship still looks rosy.