The centrepiece of an annual EU-US summit next week will be a “Transatlantic Economic Partnership” agreement. (The U.S. and EU together represent 40 percent of global trade and generate 60 percent of world growth.) The partners will set up a council run jointly by the EU’s industry commissioner and a top White House official to push the deal forwards.
BUSINESSEUROPE President Ernest-Antoine Seillière, at the Brussels-based Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations, sounded confident the council would make dealings straighforward.
Seillière said: “This will let us solve problems more easily. It will be a binding procedure for negotiations. They will end with accords, and these will be ratified by the legislatures on both sides of the Atlantic. The process obliges the resolution of the difficulties that everybody has identified.”
At Monday’s summit, however, the leaders will steer clear of a strong message on at least one area of difficulties that everybody has identified: climate change. Amid resistance from Washington, a watered-down statement is expected only to acknowledge the need for more action to fight global warming, without any specific pledges.
The US ambassador to the EU, Clayland Boyden Gray, refers proudly to concrete efforts being made in the land of the large automobile:
“We have proposed a very aggressive program to displace gasoline with biofuels and more efficient cars. It5;s a twenty percent displacement – it5;s twice as aggressive as what Europe has proposed. So I think we are doing our part. What we need to do is to join forces now and to make sure that emerging economies will do their part.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leading the EU presidency delegation, will meet U.S. President George W. Bush, but the partners are not expected to set firm deadlines for many of the goals they set out.
One analyst has said: “This summit is a big show. What really counts is what happens after they all go home”.