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Procedure : 2011/2870(RSP)
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Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 16 November 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

11. EU-US summit of 28 November 2011 (debate)
Video of the speeches

  President. − The next item is the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on the EU-US summit of 28 November 2011 (2011/2870(RSP)).


  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Madam President, in the absence of Catherine Ashton, I have the pleasure of informing you on the state of play of the EU-US Summit. I will also cover the Transatlantic Economic Council, which I chair, and which this year takes place back-to-back with the Summit. We expect the Summit to send a strong signal, reasserting the great depth and breadth of the EU-US partnership, based on common values, which is particularly important at a time when gloomy economic times have taken hold on both sides of the Atlantic and around the world more generally.

The European Parliament is an active contributor to the development of EU-US relations, as we can judge from the reports and resolutions on transatlantic relations, the delegations travelling to the US and the many high-level visitors from the United States that are welcomed in this House.

The EU and the US economies are still suffering, with pessimistic forecasts for 2012 growth and unemployment levels. Therefore, the economy and the need for jobs and growth will be at the heart of this Summit. We will start by reviewing relevant results of the G20 Summit, and will discuss our respective contributions to a sustainable and balanced global recovery.

The 2008 financial crisis in the US, and now the euro area crisis, have demonstrated how deeply the EU and US economies are interdependent, and that we need to support each others’ efforts to resolve the economic crisis. At the Summit, EU and US leaders must convey confidence in economic governance on both sides of the Atlantic. They will also seek a renewed impetus to transatlantic efforts to boost jobs and growth.

During the discussions we want to ensure that we look at all the critical economic issues beyond the euro area crisis. We are doing our homework. So far, President Obama is supporting EU efforts, and we trust that this support will continue.

However, having the euro area house in order is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition for global growth. One should not forget that the EU is not contributing to global imbalances: the EU has no large current account deficits, continues to have low inflation and has generally lower debt levels than some of our major trading partners, and the euro area has an exchange rate which is driven by market forces.

As the crisis is global, nobody can bear the full burden of the solution on their own, neither the EU nor any other economy. At the Summit we will ask the US to play its part too. We welcome the US commitment at the G20 to pursue fiscal consolidation.

Financial regulation reform remains at the core of sustainable and balanced growth. A lot has been done on both sides of the Atlantic, but further work is needed, and we need to ensure that what has been decided is implemented effectively. Again, Europe is doing its homework by implementing rules on bank bonuses and Basel III swiftly.

In the light of the G20 outcome, we also want the Summit to underline the need for the EU and US to rally behind the multilateral trading system, to resist protectionism at home and abroad, and to ensure that we both go to the Geneva WTO Ministerial Conference in December with the will to make progress wherever possible with a fresh approach to the Doha Development Agenda mandate.

The Summit will also focus, as I said, on expanding the economic benefits of the transatlantic economy. As regards the Transatlantic European Council, the TEC, I very much welcome most of the ideas expressed in the resolution.

I fully agree with you that there is – now more then ever – an urgent need for closer economic cooperation between the EU and the United States to help our economies out of the crisis. The strategic and political impulse provided by the TEC process is key in this respect. While it will not provide an immediate remedy for acute economic problems, it is the prime vehicle for the EU and the US to promote further integration of the transatlantic marketplace.

As outlined in the resolution, regulatory coherence is a key objective of our cooperation in the TEC, especially in new areas such as nanotechnology and cloud computing, or promising economic sectors such as electric vehicles, in order to create a favourable environment for growth and jobs.

The TEC has had a productive year since its last meeting. At the 29 November TEC meeting in Washington, we expect to demonstrate good results in a number of important economic sectors, including e-mobility, secure trade, the information and communication technology services sector, and basic industries (raw materials).

US TEC co-Chair Michael Froman and I will provide a joint report to the Summit and we expect Summit leaders to identify, and give us direction on, the main forward-looking priorities for transatlantic cooperation. We will also seek to present a strategy on how to promote the joint ICT regulatory principles with third countries and take a renewed commitment on our transatlantic investment cooperation.

In my view, the TEC should put its weight behind a few high-profile issues, showing our capacity to work together and set benchmarks at global level. Success breeds success: if our ‘flagship’ projects work – for example, our cooperation on electric cars – they can serve as a model for other areas. I rely on you to convey this message to European standard-setting organisations.

The TEC’s role is to further develop the enormous potential of the transatlantic marketplace. This is all the more important in times of economic crisis and financial market instability, to counter protectionist reflexes. But the TEC will not be able meet its objectives without the support of legislators. The vital motor of convergence will be your cooperation with the US Congress on key issues of transatlantic interest. I therefore welcome the decision by the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD) to initiate cooperation between committee chairs on both sides of the Atlantic in three central areas: financial services, transport security and agriculture (food safety). I am also looking forward to meeting members of the TLD Steering Group next week, on 21 November, to discuss other key areas of common interest which are mentioned in your resolution.

Let me tell you why I think the TEC is so important. The EU and the US are the world’s most integrated economies. We are each other’s largest trade and investment partners. We share common values and responsibilities for tackling global challenges on a variety of issues, be it innovation and environmental challenges, energy security or access to raw materials. That is why we need to think together about how the transatlantic marketplace should look in 2020.

The Summit will also address the global challenges we are facing together: climate change will be in focus again in the run-up to the 17th Conference of Parties in Durban. There is deep concern amongst our citizens about the impact of global climate change. Durban will be an important opportunity to make progress on shaping multilateral action to combat climate change. The Summit must send a message that the EU and US will work together to put decisions taken at Cancun last year into operation and ensure that Durban is a success.

One cannot talk about climate change, the economy or foreign policy without talking about energy. With a growing global population and a finite supply of fossil fuels, energy security is a vital concern. Given the supply shocks of the past year and the fragility of economic recovery, we will engage the US further on a joint agenda of work with a view both to increasing our energy interdependence and to promoting green growth and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On development, the EU and the US are the world’s leading aid donors. However, the current climate of austerity, where we have to do more with less, underlines more than ever the need for complementarity and increased attention to aid effectiveness. We need to work closely on coordinating our efforts in recipient countries so as to maximise the effectiveness and impact of our aid and avoid duplication of effort. We will also seek to build on existing work in the EU-US development dialogue on food security, climate change and the MDGs, especially health. As the Summit will take place on the eve of the High-Level Conference in Busan, a positive message on aid effectiveness could not be more timely.

The US is our global partner also in CFSP and CSDP. On the foreign policy side, the ‘Arab Spring’ is an obvious area of focus. We will continue our close coordination and seek to maximise our joint impact on the ground. We also must support the Middle East peace process, with the aim of achieving a framework for agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. On Iran and Syria, the EU has delivered on tougher sanctions while stressing that we remain committed to engagement on the right terms. Iran’s nuclear programme remains a concern. We are consulting internally, and with our partners, to work on an appropriate reaction by the IAEA Board of Governors to the new report.

We will look towards Europe’s East as well. In Belarus, developments during September – notably the release of 25 political prisoners – were going in the right direction. The ‘mending of fences’ with the West now seems to have come to an abrupt halt. Instead, the regime is increasingly tightening the screws on civil society and the political opposition. EU-US cooperation on Belarus has been excellent and should continue. We will coordinate our messages and policies to get maximum impact, where possible. Also, in the case of Ukraine, the US and EU have worked very well together on pushing the path of reform and will continue to do so. We need to build on things that work even more.

As for security and defence, on 18 May this year, during her visit to Washington, Catherine Ashton signed with Secretary Clinton the Framework Participation Agreement to facilitate future US engagement in the EU’s CSDP missions. This is a major step in the right direction, especially at times when the pooling of resources is essential. As a consequence, our cooperation in the field of crisis management has been further increased, and nowadays around 60 American citizens already serve in our CSDP civilian missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. This is clear evidence that the EU is taking the lead and is regarded as a global partner.

On domestic security, recognising that fundamental rights and the security of citizens are complementary and mutually reinforcing, we need to ensure that there is a good balance between the two in all of our work. The EU and US must also reinforce our work together to tackle new threats to the global networks, such as cyber attacks and cyber crime, in a more comprehensive way.

We are also determined to finalise in 2012 negotiations on a comprehensive EU-US data protection agreement that provides a high level of protection for all our citizens and thereby facilitates the exchange of data needed for law enforcement purposes.

Overall, the Summit must affirm the continued importance of a modern and forward-looking EU-US relationship in an increasingly multi-polar world. I look forward to the debate that will now follow.


  Elmar Brok, on behalf of the PPE Group. (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the forthcoming summit and the subsequent meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) are extremely important, because we are in a situation where we recognise, now more than ever, that cooperation between the United States and Europe is necessary once again. The matters at issue are the Middle East and the Quartet, Iran, energy security and many more.

However, right now I would like to talk about the issue of the financial and economic crisis. The industrialised democracies of the US, Europe and Japan are the ones that are currently experiencing major problems, and China is really pleased and is asking how it can help. In order to restore confidence, we need to show that we can overcome this crisis alone. That is why this growth and jobs initiative is so important, so that we once again obtain more for our citizens, generate growth and create jobs. The removal of the non-tariff barriers to trade with the United States alone would generate growth of 3%, which would be an important and positive message. That is why we need to make progress here under political leadership and not merely with the technical negotiating skills of the bureaucrats. This should be achieved in particular by removing the non-tariff barriers to trade, setting standards and common approaches in connection with such highlights as e-mobility, as they call it, but also, with regard to our common power to implement standards at a global level, we as Americans and Europeans, who still have over 60% of the gross national product of the world, now have the power to implement these things in a way that is in our interests. This is our opportunity to do that.

That is why we believe, and want to express this in this resolution – which I believe has the support of a broad majority in this House – that we should ask President Barroso and President Van Rompuy to discuss this very clearly with the United States.

I can tell you that we have recently been in much more intensive talks with our colleagues in the US Congress, who, for similar reasons, are also now showing themselves to be much more open to this development and this is, accordingly, also being talked about much more in the US. That is why, Commissioner, your initiative for the TEC is now receiving broader support on the other side than was the case to start with, following the change of government in the US. I believe that, via the TEC, you will be able to make progress with regard to the practical aspects underpinning the overarching political objectives and, in this way, give Europe and the US a future in which their citizens can find economic and social security.


  Hannes Swoboda, on behalf of the S&D Group. – (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, thank you for your detailed report. As you and Mr Brok have said, both Europe and the United States are indeed in a difficult economic situation. In Europe it is perhaps more obvious, but it is clearly the case in the United States, too. At the G20 it was a little distressing, if the information is to be believed, to see that some countries – Argentina and others – were telling us what to do. Previously, we were always the ones who instructed others. Now we are being taught by the others, and that has to give us and our citizens reason to reflect on the fact that we really should do everything we can now to put our economic situation in order.

However, what we certainly can do together with the US is to form innovation communities in various different areas. We touch on this in our resolution, for example in the energy sector. In the area of energy saving and energy efficiency in particular we are many times better than the United States, but we can still carry out research together in this area. Another example is the area of rare earths – I assume my fellow Member will also speak about this – there are a number of possible areas where the United States and Europe can work together and also make their mark globally.

Thirdly, I would ask you, Commissioner, to insist that we, naturally, also discuss the issue of international regulation and the regulatory framework. With regard to the financial markets, we know that, in Europe too, we have to do whatever we can. However, if we do not work with the United States, at least in certain areas, and then together also convince China and others that we need more regulation – particularly on the financial markets – it will not be possible. I believe that this also includes the financial transaction tax. I know that this has not even been accepted in Europe yet, but it is also a subject that needs to be discussed in talks with the United States.

My last point relates to foreign policy. Commissioner, you rightly pointed out that there are a lot of good areas for cooperation. As far as the Middle East is concerned, we have very often been left high and dry by the United States, particularly last summer when several delegations from Parliament were in the US and we noticed that Baroness Ashton did not receive full support. She only received it long after it was already too late in many respects. We could have handled the whole Palestine issue better with the United Nations. However, what we as a group absolutely reject and are highly critical of is the behaviour of the United States in connection with UNESCO in particular. Penalising democratic decisions, democratic majority decisions, with sanctions or the withdrawal of funds is no way to establish peace in the Middle East. That is something that the European Union should also make very clear to the United States at the summit.


  Sarah Ludford, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Madam President, I am privileged to serve as Vice-Chair of the Delegation for Relations with the US, under the strong leadership of Elmar Brok. My own knowledge and expertise is principally in the area of justice, human rights and security. Naturally, therefore, I put a great deal of emphasis on the parts of our resolution which stress the shared transatlantic values of liberty, democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and also the cooperation we are pursuing to guarantee liberty and security.

I do feel that we fall into the danger of taking each other too much for granted. Despite, or perhaps because of, how interdependent we are, we do not invest in the EU-US relationship to the extent it requires. But the economic crisis demands that we prioritise jobs and growth, so the great interest in a transatlantic initiative for jobs and growth, which MEPs expressed already in a resolution in September and repeat in the present resolution, is fully justified. The remarks made by Commissioner De Gucht suggest the determination that the text should take up on that.

Cutting barriers to mutual trade and investment is a ‘no-brainer’ when you look at the figures. It was a Commission study in 2009 which talked about the huge sums that could be added to the US economy, and even more to the EU economy, if we freed up transatlantic trade. In the case of the EU, the figure was USD 158 billion; the US figure was USD 53 billion. As Commissioner De Gucht said, the transatlantic legislative dialogue pushed firmly by our Chair is adopting a very focused and business-like working method. We, quite rightly, have to justify our overseas trips to our constituents; I believe we can do so by showing that, by meeting our Congressional counterparts, MEPs can improve our constituents’ job prospects and their ease of travel and doing business.


  Reinhard Bütikofer, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, I completely agree with you when you say that this summit is extremely important. I would perhaps put it this way: it should be extremely important. I am not sure whether we will actually have a partner with the capacity to act on the US side.

The US Administration is largely paralysed and Congress is for the most part divided. As much as the necessity for additional sustainable growth on both sides of the Atlantic is beyond dispute, there is very little evidence of anything being done with any real energy. The US Administration cannot even manage to get this half way there on the domestic front.

It would depend all the more on the European side making a great effort now to inject life into this partnership commensurate with its importance. I know that you, Commissioner, are doing everything you can in the TEC to make this happen, and I also know that, as Chair of the Delegation for relations with the United States, Mr Brok is doing everything he can at his level. Regretfully, I have to say, however, that the resolution that has been presented to us here is half-baked and it is a text that somehow fails to establish a focus.

Let me give you three examples. It quite rightly addresses the issue of raw materials policy and rare earths. In fact, the US, Europe and indeed Japan, too, could collaborate very well in this regard, not only on research projects, but also in the creation of global economic governance for these structures. Compare what we have in the way of international governance structures in the oil sector, for example, with what we have for metals and minerals, and then you will quickly see that we can do something here. That is not even mentioned, however.

Another example is the subject of the Middle East. Israel and the Palestinians have reached an impasse. Israel is currently turning off the taps where money is concerned for the Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority. In the meantime, Israel is even turning off the money supplies for its own human rights organisations. However, our resolution refuses to address this matter explicitly. That is half-baked, it is not ambitious and at this level we cannot even envisage any form of sensible cooperation with the US.

With regard to the last example of climate change, you said one thing: we must put decisions taken in Durban into operation. There is too little ambition there for this cooperation, particularly when the US is in such a poor position, as we know that the IEA has just said that we are heading for a warming of six degrees. I think that we should really take this seriously, as you said, but not in a half-baked way, as is sadly the case here.


  Charles Tannock, on behalf of the ECR Group. Madam President, the unique and historical relationship between the United States and the European Union is based on shared values, such as free market economics and a long-standing commitment to fundamental respect for human rights and democratic forms of governance. A close and integrated relationship between the EU and the US is essential, given the interdependence of the transatlantic economic partnership, the biggest in the world.

It is from this base that a significant proportion of global trade can actually take place and, due to this close relationship, vast levels of global wealth are constantly being formed in a well-regulated environment, which is rule-based and transparent for all.

America is also an essential ally militarily. It brings to the international arena a unique and unparalleled military capability, as we saw recently in action over the Libyan theatre. As the leading NATO power, it is indispensable to European security. I welcome, for example, the recent announcement that a joint EU-US cyber security exercise will be conducted by the end of this year, helping prepare the way against a potential terrorist cyber attack on businesses and national infrastructures.

It is also extremely important that a coordinated approach across the Atlantic, between the USA and EU Member States, continues to be taken to many of today’s most pressing foreign policy questions – from containing Iranian nuclear ambitions to dealing with troublesome North Korea, and of course the promotion and support for the UN Quartet, of which the EU and the US are members, as a meaningful mechanism to deliver peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The EU-US partnership is also essential to dealing with global climate change and energy security, particularly making sure that countries from which we draw our energy supplies are stable and secure in the Middle East, South America, Africa and elsewhere, as well as the economic challenges posed by the rising phenomena of BRICs, the economic powers of today and the future, and in particular the challenge posed by massive China, both militarily and economically.

EU-US collaboration has borne many mutually beneficial fruits in the past. In my view and in the view of the ECR Group, it will long continue to do so in future.


  Helmut Scholz, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. – (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, in the last few weeks there has at last been a positive signal from the US that has made the world sit up and listen. However, this signal did not come from the White House, nor from the Capitol, but from the street. With the Occupy movement, the American people have set an example of resistance against the dictates of financial capitalism that have been followed and seized upon throughout the world. Yesterday, the tents of the protesters were cleared away and numerous people were arrested by the police under the cover of darkness throughout the US in what was clearly a concerted action on the part of the mayors. That is also a signal, indicating the refusal of those in power to take up the demands of the people. However, this is precisely the demand that my group would make of a transatlantic summit. It is not the people who should be arrested, but the fraudsters who are becoming ever richer on profits from subprime credits.

The summit, coming just after the G20 summit, ought to consider how wide the gap is now getting between the poor majority of the population and the super rich. The summit ought to take firm decisions concerning the prohibition of usurious interest, whether for private individuals or for entire states. It ought to open its eyes and see that 10% of the population of the United States and the Member States of the EU is now out of work. A quarter of young people have no prospects, and in many regions the figure is even higher than 40%. The financial markets suck the necessary investment capital out of the real economy and out of the national exchequers and deprive them of profits. These enormous problems must be addressed at the summit. To solve these problems we need a new high-quality partnership for cooperation between the US Congress, the European Parliament and the parliaments of the EU Member States in order to define common approaches for the legislation that is urgently needed. An expanded TLD would also be the appropriate forum for addressing further differences between the EU and the US, whether this is – using the list of topics that you mentioned – in peace policy, climate policy or in connection with rights to privacy.

As Mr Bütikofer said, the resolution is a long way from achieving this. As a group, therefore, we cannot give the resolution our backing.


  Niki Tzavela, on behalf of the EFD Group.(EL) Madam President, we have seen close cooperation between Europe and the United States over this past year. The main reason was the economic crisis, which has hit both sides of the Atlantic. This is therefore the perfect time for taking advantage of this momentum to establish real cooperation. If we want to be practical, the body we have is the Transatlantic Economic Council. As the Commissioner said, the Transatlantic Economic Council is crucial; two sectors which could help to develop the EU-Atlantic economy are trade and new investments. To date we have operated correctively, in terms of legislation, on both sides of the Atlantic.

With the effort now being made by the Delegation for Relations with the United States, we have started to work on certain issues jointly with Congress. This means that we are trying, preventively, to operate and arrange or prepare a friendly institutional framework within which we can develop our economic relations.

Therefore, Commissioner, I would say that we need to use the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD) delegates in the TEC, because the legislature and its executive share responsibility for overseeing and applying most of the decisions by the TEC. This would improve EU-Atlantic consultations and would certainly strengthen the rules of new technology and emerging economic sectors. With coordinated work, the TEC, with the help of the TLD, could make a great deal of headway in rationalising legislation, which is something we definitely need.


  Andreas Mölzer (NI).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner De Gucht, since the negotiations on PNR data are yet to reach a successful conclusion, I believe it is even more important for us at least to call for better rights for EU citizens in connection with data processing on US soil at the EU-US summit. After all, we Europeans have a kind of second-class data protection over there compared to US citizens. It is also clear, in my view, that the US plans for a transpacific partnership are sure to have an impact on transatlantic relations and a whole host of EU agreements. Brussels should prepare itself for this and for new disagreements in the fight for dominance in South East Asia between the US and China. Perhaps the current complaints from South East Asia over Beijing’s involvement in territorial conflicts will soon be replaced by such complaints about Washington. Then the EU ought to be able to score a few points as an impartial mediator.

In the dispute over the controversial Iranian nuclear programme there needs to be a clear European position to the effect that this dispute will not be resolved by military means. So-called preventive military strikes contravene international law and should definitely be rejected. In view of the growing risk of war, Brussels needs to exert a moderating effect on all sides – starting with Israel, then Iran and finally the US, the United Kingdom and France. As a consequence of the IAEO report, more stringent sanctions imposed by the international community are, in my view, the only real answer.


  José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (PPE).(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the next EU-US summit will be determined by the economic and financial crisis.

I believe that both parties should adopt a modest approach and apply that Chinese proverb that, before launching ourselves into the task of putting the world to rights, we should first take a look at our own house. This means weighing up the global influence of each party and highlighting the role and the economic, commercial, financial and industrial weight of the European Union.

Beyond the economic and financial problems, I believe that it is important to consider the lessons learned in Libya, after Operation Unified Protector, where the European Union was criticised. We should also consider the situation in Syria, after today’s meeting of the Arab League and try to move forward the search for a resolution in the Security Council of the United Nations. Then there is the peace process in the Middle East, which the Commissioner referred to, and the Palestinian question, in which the European Union gave a pitiful performance at the vote in UNESCO. We should also ask for greater consistency between words and deeds after the speech of President Obama in the United States.

It is clear, Madam President, that the European Union and the United States are two partners who have a shared vision of the world, and although this is not always identical, they have a duty to understand and respect each other. Therefore it must be accepted that in today’s globalised world, in the face of challenges and threats that affect us all equally – whether it is the fight against terrorism, drug trafficking or organised crime, the economic and financial crisis or unemployment, protecting the environment and natural resources or emigration – we must search for responses to all of these equally. It must also be accepted that unilateralism, even for the most prosperous and the most powerful, is an impossible dream.


  Maria Badia i Cutchet (S&D).(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, I would like to refer to a very specific matter contained in the resolution we will vote on tomorrow. It concerns cooperation in the area of research and innovation, the so-called R+D+I (Research, Development and Innovation).

We are all convinced that in order to overcome the current economic crisis, the European Union must strengthen its international alliances and strategies in priority areas, such as, it goes without saying, growth and employment. Innovation, however, is the cornerstone around which the specific proposals must revolve in order to forge a new global economic model that is more sustainable, intelligent, fair and lasting.

One of the flagship initiatives of the 2020 strategy is the Innovation Union, which highlights the need to concentrate our efforts in the area of innovation so as to promote a healthier, more prosperous and stable economy, and also a fairer, more dynamic society. In that sense, investment in R+D+I leads, on the one hand, to a more efficient and sustainable use of energy resources, and on the other, to an improvement in the quality of life of citizens.

However, above all, it makes knowledge and creativity the driving forces for society. I think that a firm commitment to education and training, as well as the transfer of innovation in working conditions, can result in the fairer, more sustainable global economy we are all looking for. In order to achieve this, it is clearly imperative that our strategic alliance with the United States should also incorporate the common flag of innovation.


  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE).(DE) Madam President, I believe there is cause for concern with regard to this summit. The role of the US in the global economy is far from agreeable. While we here in Europe have learnt from the debt crisis to be responsible with our public finances, we see the American Central Bank continuing to open the floodgates and flood the American market with dollars.

Easy money was one of the causes of the crisis in 2008. The whole affair is, unfortunately, continuing along the same path, just like the US public debt situation. The risk of inflation must not be ignored. I also think it is regrettable that the US has still not managed to carry out any permanent reform of its Medicare, Medicaid and social security systems.

In this context ahead of an election year in 2012, a weaker dollar is, of course, not what the US wants. A revaluation would absolutely not fit in with President Obama’s jobs programme. The advice to Europeans to please stabilise the euro should also be seen against this background. After all, if the euro loses value against the dollar, US exports will have a harder time on the global markets.

At the same time, there is a rise in protectionist efforts in the US – this is also a trend that we absolutely must counter, and therefore it is good that the Commissioner for Trade has spoken here today. I consider this to be extremely important. We Europeans and Americans still have the most significant trade and investment relations with one another.

A second point that is important for my group is the fact that, with Google, eBay, Apple and Amazon, so-called information empires have arisen. With regard to the handing of the data, it is important for us, together with the US, to find a new approach for these private players too, and I believe that this is of great interest to our citizens. This matter must be addressed seriously. I forgot to mention Facebook, which should clearly also be included here.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))


  Paul Rübig (PPE).(DE) Madam President, Mr Lambsdorff, as we all know there will be elections next November in the US. How do you see finance policy developing in future if the Democrats win or if the Republicans win? What do you think a change in strategy in Europe would then mean for the US elections?


  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE).(DE) Mr Rübig, I wish I could give you an encouraging answer. My fear is simply that if the Republicans actually manage to remove President Obama from office, we will not see any particular improvement in the US public finances in terms of revenue, whereas if things were to go on as before, the Democrats will continue their irresponsible policy in relation to expenditure. Therefore, I do not believe that the macroeconomic situation in the US will take a turn for the better. We will have to humbly wait and see who the Americans ultimately vote for next November.


  Tarja Cronberg (Verts/ALE). - Madam President, as the Chair of the Parliament’s Iran Delegation, I am very worried about the reports that have come now saying that Iran is maybe considering withdrawing from the NPT Treaty. As a result of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report, there have been indications that Iran may have a military dimension in its nuclear technology development. On the other hand, Iran is saying that it is only for peaceful use.

Now faced with sanctions, military strikes and so forth, the Iranian Parliament is putting pressure on the Iranian Government to withdraw from the NPT. Countries that have developed nuclear weapons – Israel, India, Pakistan – have done so outside the NPT Treaty, and international efforts have not convinced them to return to the NPT regime. This has happened without sanctions even, so I think, in the context of the EU-US Summit, it is very necessary to define a policy which keeps Iran in the NPT regime so that there is no risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons. Iran may have developed nuclear devices, but probably on a threshold level. If we cannot find a policy, then there will be the problem also of the failure of the NPT.


  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL) . – (EL) Madam President, the summit is being held against the background of the synchronised global capitalist crisis. This crisis is exacerbating competition between the two basic imperialist centres and with emerging economic powers as to who will get out of the crisis least scathed. This – now open – clash of interests between the American, European, Russian and Chinese monopolies in all sectors is expressed at every opportunity and at every international meeting, including at the recent G20 summit.

The anti-grassroots EU 2020 strategy and the reactionary measures by the Obama Administration illustrate that both imperialist centres are united more than even on the demand by capital that the workers should pay for the crisis, by accepting starvation wages and handing social infrastructures over to the monopolies. The capitalist crisis is making imperialism even more dangerous for the people.

The European Union, the United States and NATO are equally to blame for the crimes committed in the war in Libya and for the escalation in imperialist interventions in the Middle East and North Africa. They are jointly undermining the independent Palestinian state and are now preparing for a new war on the grounds of the nuclear programme in Iran. It is perfectly clear to us that capitalism has nothing left to give the world, which is why the ghost of communism is hovering over the entire world.

(The speaker agreed to take a ‘blue card’ question under Rule 149(8))


  Daniel Caspary (PPE).(DE) Madam President, Mr Angourakis, have I understood you correctly or was the interpretation wrong in stating that you ascribed responsibility for the war in Libya to the European Union and the United States and that you do not consider the responsibility to lie with the former dictator in the country?


  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL).(DE) You have understood correctly. I merely forgot to include NATO. I would like to take this opportunity to refer to the most recent statement by the NATO Secretary General, who was very pleased that this was the most successful NATO operation in history, regardless of the fact, of course, that 60 000 people have paid for this war with their lives.

I am sure that you are also aware that the International Criminal Court has brought charges against NATO on account of this war. In this light, it is absolutely clear what the aims of this war were and who is to blame for these victims.


  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). - Madam President, one policy issue that will be discussed will be the planned action against Iran, possibly involving an attack by Israel with the support of the United States. The pretext of course would be the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which concluded that Iran was indeed developing nuclear weapons. Reuters has reported that its sources of information were the same security service sources that provided the untruthful evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

One of the older sources of Iran’s alleged intentions is the so-called ‘lap-top of death’, supposedly provided to the US intelligence service in 2005 by one unidentified person, who apparently received it from a different unidentified person in Iran, and which contained plans for a missile with a nuclear warhead. More recent evidence about highly-enriched uranium comes from the American Enterprise Institute, a NeoCon group with links to Israeli lobbyists.

It must be remembered that some of the evidence produced in the run-up to the war against Iraq, for example the alleged purchase of uranium from Nigeria, was completely fabricated. If the conflict should lead to the closure of the Gulf of Hormuz by Iran, this could lead to a rise in the price of crude oil to USD 200 or more a barrel, aggravating the recession severely. If people are not concerned about the loss of lives in this impending conflict, perhaps they will spare a moment or two for the loss of euros, pounds and dollars.


  Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (PPE).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the markets in the West are growing ever closer together, even if we experience the occasional setback. Without doubt, trade between the EU and the US still has the potential for further substantial growth on both sides of the Atlantic. I therefore welcome the settlement of the dispute that has been ongoing for many years over the import of hormone-treated beef from the US, which is currently awaiting legislative implementation by the European Parliament.

At the same time, however, I call on the US to implement the WTO panel reports that are still outstanding and to remove further barriers to trade: firstly, for example, to not introduce an obligation for a 100% container scan; secondly, to implement the decision of the WTO appeals board as quickly as possible and to suspend the practice of ‘zeroing’ in connection with the enacting of anti-dumping measures; thirdly – an important issue for Europe – to significantly improve the protection of geographical designations of origin – we can agree on there being no champagne made in the USA; fourthly, to finally lift the ban on the import of European beef to the US on account of the supposed risk of BSE; fifthly and lastly, the US must essentially refrain from introducing a ‘buy American’ obligation.

We see that protectionism and foreclosure come to nothing in the end, as is evident from the economic and labour market data in the United States. Therefore, I would appeal for more openness in matters relating to trade on both sides of the Atlantic.


  Corina Creţu (S&D). - Madam President, the European Union’s relations with the United States of America are one of the most important stabilising factors at global level.

Although there have been some negative aspects to go with the positive ones, these relations are stable and based on a fundamental set of values which are becoming universal. It would be unrealistic to say that these relations have not been affected by the economic crisis. Our position differs from theirs on certain aspects of the crisis, because its effects have been different on the two sides of the Atlantic, but I hope that these natural differences will not endanger our good relations.

It would be unproductive to reduce these transatlantic relations to just the economic dimension; both the EU and US are engaged in management processes such as globalisation and sustainable development, combating the effects of climate change, maintaining global stability and promoting democratisation all over the world.

We need to support the development of free and open democracies and promote peace and stability, especially in the Middle Eastern and North African countries. We also need to make substantial efforts to finally find a sustainable solution to the Palestinian issue. We also need to cooperate more closely to solve the Iranian nuclear file and to radically change the human rights situation in Iran and Syria.

As Vice-Chair of the Development Committee, I consider that urgent coordinating measures are needed in order to provide the necessary funds for continuation of the existing programmes in the poorest countries of Africa and Central America in particular. We are the world’s biggest donors, and this dialogue is very important from this point of view.


  Marietje Schaake (ALDE). - Madam President, the campaign season has clearly started in the United States, which means that there is less and less focus on the rest of the world. In Europe, even though unfortunately we cannot elect the President of the Commission or the Council, we are equally inward-focused. This is undesirable and even dangerous.

In times of crisis – and perhaps especially in times of crisis – we must work hard and work together to resist nationalism and protectionism and to break down existing non-tariff barriers specifically. This House has voiced its concern with the ‘Buy American’ clauses that are being proposed in the context of growth and job acts in the United States. There is already a huge discrepancy between the openness of the European public procurement space for US bidders compared to the closed US market for EU-based companies to bid on tenders. The US business community is also worried that ‘Buy American’ clauses will hurt exports and would undermine growth instead of fostering it. The US should not alienate, but rather embrace, its European allies. This is the moment to work towards a comprehensive transatlantic jobs and growth initiative.

Europe’s digital single market desperately needs to be completed. This would open up benefits for our own consumers, SMEs and businesses, but it would also allow for a more healthy trade relation with the US, and growth of our digital economies. One of the key issues on which the US and the EU should cooperate is therefore internet freedom and the free flow of information. When we think of a transatlantic market space, let us begin online where borders should matter least.

As my colleague, Mr Lambsdorff said, we are worried about the information monopolies of certain companies. We must cooperate on standards, but I urge the Americans to think twice before adopting the PROTECT IP Act or the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would lead the arms of US law enforcement to span the entire world and it would make the US lose its moral authority. Imagine what the responses would be if China were to take down websites in the US or in Europe itself. We do not want this to happen.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule149(8))


  Alexander Graf Lambsdorff (ALDE).(DE) Madam President, Ms Schaake is one of our most competent Members when it comes to issues relating to the Internet, freedom of information and data protection. I would like to take the opportunity to ask you whether you think it would make sense to draw up an action plan with the US that would ensure the protection of data and the privacy of users of these major providers. Could this be an objective for this or another EU-US summit? In my view, it could be. I would like to hear your opinion on this and perhaps a few elements that could be agreed on in such an action plan.


  Marietje Schaake (ALDE). - Madam President, indeed we should work together to ensure that there is Internet freedom.

On the one hand, data protection is an important subject, and a subject on which we have experts in the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe. On the other hand, Internet freedom also impinges on the strategic foreign policy interests of both the United States and Europe, and is a matter on which we could cooperate much more intensely. This would, for example, mean that we would stop Western-based companies from providing the most serious infiltrating surveillance technologies to repressive regimes. It would also mean that we would prioritise expression and access to information, including on the Internet.

So there is room for cooperation, and I will bring it up during the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue in Florida next month.


  Paweł Robert Kowal (ECR).(PL) Madam President, once again the word crisis is used in the context of discussion on current relations between the EU and the US. For this is an unprecedented situation in EU-US relations as well as in historical relations between Europe and the US, when so much depends on economic cooperation. However, I think that when speaking about the crisis and trying to identify the underlying causes, we have to reach out to what is most important, namely, to common roots, and to republican, economic and free market values. This is what we have been greatly missing over the past few years, as there has been a lack of trust between the EU and the US. We need to say frankly that unless we resolve the political weakness which was supposed to be tackled by the democratic administration in the US, we will not overcome the crisis together, but we might cause a number of other problems for many parts of the world. I therefore appeal for a new openness, a new way of thinking when dealing with our relations with the US. This also applies to the US Administration, the elimination of the numerous barriers that you have spoken about here, and to the waiver on visa requirements for some European countries. I say this as a Pole, coming from a country which, despite its good relations with the US, is still subject to a visa requirement. This issue needs to be addressed. I believe that other Members will also speak about this. Today, however, it is not sufficient to speak about the crisis in economic terms; it has to be said that we need to overcome the political crisis in our relations with the US.


  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Madam President, the EU clearly has a credibility problem. The EU purports to be a player in world affairs, and this statement wants greater cooperation with the United States on many different levels. I wonder what our American friends make of Catherine Ashton who has never received a single vote in her life. Now the EU is dismantling troublesome democratically-elected governments and replacing them with unelected technocrats, like Mr Monti in Italy, and we have the disgraceful actions of unelected Council President Van Rompuy, who poured scorn on calls for a referendum and fresh elections in Greece because we the people means something completely different to the United States than it does to the European Union. When Americans refer to ‘the people’ they mean the masses, but in the EU the only people who really count are the technocrats. Before you talk about promoting democracy in the European Neighbourhood, you should allow it to be reinstated in Member States.


  Daniel Caspary (PPE).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, it is good that this summit is taking place, as it is high time that we coordinated matters better in connection with our transatlantic relations. In 2000, the European Union and the United States together were responsible for 50% of global economic output. That was 10 years ago, and in 10 years’ time we will, together, only account for 35%.

On the other hand, the two largest emerging countries, China and India, accounted for only 10% of global economic output 10 years ago, and in 10 years’ time that figure will have risen to 25%. That means that, in relative terms, our importance and also the importance of the US are diminishing, and we urgently need finally to stand together in this regard.

The TEC has already achieved a few results, but if I consider e-mobility, for example, there is undoubtedly potential for further development. Commissioner, what I am very disappointed about is the fact that you have just mentioned the subject of nanotechnology, which, fortunately, is also a subject that the TEC is concerned about. However, on the subject of nanotechnology, the Commission issued its own definition just a few days ago. I do not believe that it is very conducive to transatlantic cooperation if we place this subject on the agenda of the TEC, but then the European Commission issues a definition. If we have already defined something, there is little point in still discussing it at transatlantic level, as the matter is, unfortunately, already settled.

With regard to the current crisis, it is clear that we are attempting to deal with it using similar programmes, but the programmes are not coordinated with one another at all. It is not simply that we do not know what negative impact our programmes could have on each other, but we are seeing that some programmes on either side of the Atlantic are actually working against each other. Thus, if I look at the American Jobs Act – Ms Schaake has already mentioned this – then it is certainly not what we would envisage in relation to a transatlantic partnership. Therefore, I would be very grateful if you could take up the issue of this transatlantic initiative for growth and jobs that we will also call for once again in Parliament tomorrow, and also if we could make progress in this regard and I hope this initiative will not go the same way as the integrated transatlantic market that we as the European Parliament called for in 2008 in the report by Mr Brok and Ms Mann. Nothing has happened on this in the last three years, and it would be a shame if we did not make any headway on this joint initiative for growth and jobs.


  Roberto Gualtieri (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, cooperation between the European Union and the United States is certainly going to play an increasingly important role in transatlantic relations. Dialogue with the European Parliament has a crucial and growing part to play in this cooperation, which is something our friends across the Atlantic have grasped perfectly well and often better than many national governments and parliaments. This dialogue is first and foremost legislative in nature, but there is also political and strategic dialogue on major economic and foreign policy issues, areas in which this House intends to strengthen its actions and make the most of its prerogatives.

One of the issues that I would like to highlight is a matter of great importance which has been positively taken up in the joint resolution. I am referring to the Middle East question. We are committed to supporting the efforts by the High Representative and the Quartet to resume the negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government, because we all know that if the parties do not negotiate there will be no peace and no two-state solution. At the same time, however, we believe that recognising the Palestinians’ aspirations to be represented in the United Nations as a state does not negate the need for the talks but instead may strengthen them.

We therefore call on the Member States and the United States to come up with pragmatic measures to achieve this recognition. In the context of the budget procedure, we are committed to increasing EU economic support for the Palestinian Authority and believe that the Unesco boycott is a misguided and counterproductive reaction.


  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). - Madam President, the United States remains the main foreign partner of the EU. At the same time, the strategic emphasis of the EU is moving from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is clear that the EU must also form strong relations with emerging powers. I hope that this can be done without weakening the transatlantic relationship.

Most of the daily business between the United States and the EU consists of trade and investment. The volume is huge and they are mutually beneficial. It should be our top priority to avoid calls for protectionism in these economically challenging times. I think this is something that we can all agree on.

In a multipolar world it is harder and harder to reach agreements on global problems, but if the US and the EU do not stand for human rights and freedom, no one will. In this respect, the top issue should now be North Africa where everything should be done to guarantee human rights and the establishment of working and open democracies.


  James Elles (ECR). - Madam President, the economic fates of the United States and the European Union are inextricably linked. The need for closer economic cooperation has never been greater. For this reason, I warmly welcome the statement by the Commissioner that jobs and growth will be at the heart of the Summit, as requested in the Caspary report in our House in September.

There is a great opportunity to show that the transatlantic partnership is addressing the common concerns of citizens on both sides of the Atlantic, and will be of real value to their futures. Ultimately, the central question is whether we have in the European Union and the United States, as a multipolar world emerges, the vision and the resolve to reshape and deepen the transatlantic partnership for the 21st century.

For this reason, I urge the Commission and the United States administration to make it visible at the Summit that there is a major initiative under way for jobs and growth. In this way, the Transatlantic Economic Council can be shown the way ahead, involving business and political leaders in the process.


  Francisco José Millán Mon (PPE).(ES) Madam President, Europe and the United States are going through a severe economic crisis.

Both our economies are very interconnected and during the next summit, we have to commit to act in a more coordinated manner and to implement the commitments that were made at the G20.

In a globalised economy, the solutions should be global, but it is also necessary for everyone to fulfil their responsibilities in their own area.

The United States should reduce its trade and fiscal deficits and China should revaluate its currency. We Europeans should finally solve the Greek crisis and the sovereign debt issues in several of our countries. Otherwise, we would not have any credibility as effective partners.

The fleeting presence of President Obama in Europe to attend the G20 meeting in Cannes contrasts with the time he is dedicating to the Asia-Pacific region this week. It appears to symbolise the rise of Asia and the decline of Europe.

It is not only economic challenges that we Europeans and Americans have to tackle, however, but also many others: climate change, nuclear proliferation, energy, terrorism, poverty; and regional issues such as the Arab Spring and the conflict in the Middle East.

We should consult and coordinate and stop the concept of the ‘West’ or the ‘transatlantic community’ increasingly losing value to Asia’s benefit.

Asia should also take part in global governance, but not by taking the role of Europe. For that we need a true Europe, a solid European Union, an efficient global player, and not a fragile set of countries that do not know how to resolve the sovereign debt crisis.

This is what the United States expects and is also what our citizens want.


  Dimitrios Droutsas (S&D).(EL) Madam President, the US is without doubt a traditional ally of Europe and, as such, we must expand our cooperation thematically and deepen it politically. I am, of course, delighted that the US is increasingly recognising the crucial role played by the European Parliament, including in decision-taking within the European Union. However, I consider that the US could attach even greater importance to the European Union. We must avoid the prevailing image and we must be honest with ourselves about the fact that summits with the European Union are, if you will pardon the expression, something of a chore for the US, even in these times of economic crisis in Europe.

However, we must not forget that we have comparative advantages in numerous sectors that make us an attractive interlocutor to the US, and not just the US; developments in the Middle East and the Arab world are just one of numerous examples of this. However, I am sad to see that the European Union has not managed to play and highlight its particular role in the area and, as a result, other countries, such as Turkey, see themselves and are also seen by the US, as a stronger and more important voice in the area than Europe. This must change at once and I believe that the next summit offers a good opportunity here.

Allow me to close by underlining that, as regards cooperation in the important security sector, a crucial point for us is the agreement on personal data protection and, on this very delicate issue for the European public, we must respect and emphasise the principles and practices on which our European family is based. We MEPs wish this issue to be raised as a priority item on the summit’s agenda.


  Mirosław Piotrowski (ECR).(PL) Madam President, the United States is the most important strategic partner of the European Union, both in political and economic terms. Close cooperation with the US is a condition for the effective resolution of the current problems, such as overcoming the economic crisis, ensuring stability, establishing energy security and combating terrorism. The attempt to develop common armed forces on the basis of the Treaty of Lisbon cannot undermine the real cooperation as part of NATO.

There are, naturally, a number of technical issues which need to be resolved with the United States over the course of the upcoming summit. The issue of visas emerges here once again, namely, the discrimination on the part of the US in its visa policy towards four Member States of the European Union, including Poland. Currently, there is no justification for the visa requirement for the citizens of these Member States. Therefore, I yet again appeal for this issue to be re-addressed at the next summit.


  Eduard Kukan (PPE). - Madam President, I am going to speak about one of the important specific issues in the broad scale of EU-US cooperation.

Before this Summit, I would like to encourage the High Representative to work more intensively on strengthening the EU-US partnership in foreign policy, especially in the development of democratisation.

The United States, our strategic partner in this field, is together with the EU the largest provider of development and democracy assistance globally. The outcome of the current wave of democratic uprisings in the Arab world showed that we need to bring democracy development back to the international agenda.

We have seen that the international response to these events is decisive in shaping perception of democracy support in the future. We will need more cooperation and coordination with the United States on these issues. The EU and US should shift towards an approach to democracy which is based on viewing other regions and countries as real partners on an equal basis. The Summit should be a good chance to put these issues firmly back on the table.


  Ana Gomes (S&D). - Madam President, the transatlantic partnership must act against this crisis, taking lessons from the deregulatory madness inherent in the casino economy it allowed to flourish. The EU and US must then implement commitments made at the G20, including the control of tax havens, which continue to divert staggering resources from investment in economic growth and job creation. Only in this way will the EU and US ensure strategic security for their democracies and also encourage the rule of law and human rights to take root at global level, countering negative designs by powers whose governments do not account to their peoples, such as China and Russia.

Pressing a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is central for the US and the EU to assist the Arab Spring in disarming dictatorships, fundamentalisms and terrorisms, including in non-Arab Iran. Israel will not survive without creating an interest for its own security in its region and, in particular, in its neighbouring state of Palestine. The EU and the US should not delay any longer in recognising it.


  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR). (PL) Madam President, the EU and the United States are connected by a special relationship built on common values and historic cooperation in many fields, starting with the economy and ending with security. The Union should continue to engage in building effective and good relations within the framework of its partnership with the United States, and dialogue between the EU and the USA should aim for even greater cooperation and coordination in matters of regional and global concern, particularly in the area of promoting respect for democracy and human rights.

However, the Union should also take advantage of these mutual relations in order to turn our partners’ attentions to issues that are important from the point of view of some Member States. Citizens of four Member States of the European Union, including Poland, still have to apply for a visa entitling them to enter the territory of the United States. I would like this question to be raised at the forthcoming summit. The proposed resolution on which we will vote tomorrow also calls on the EU and the United States to do everything in their power to restore direct peace talks between Israel and Palestine, because this is the only way to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East. I hope that this issue, too, will be duly discussed with the US administration. Thank you.


  Krzysztof Lisek (PPE). - (PL) Madam President, Commissioner, it is clear that there is no need or necessity to convince anyone of the importance of US-EU relations. All the speakers have underlined that they affect both issues of economy and trade, and of security and foreign policy. As Vice-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, I would like to focus on matters of security.

Today, as reflected in the resolution, the best guarantee of security is the development of stable, democratic countries and, in this context, cooperation between the United States, the Member States of the European Union and the institutions of the European Union must be ensured. We all have to devote more time to working together, exchanging information and sometimes avoiding a duplication of our efforts. This also applies to actions in the field of development aid. The United States and the European Union together provide a total of 80% of development aid worldwide. This requires coordination and cooperation in order to – as I tend to say – save money and spend it more efficiently.

Of course, as a Pole I cannot avoid joining those of my fellow Members who have referred to the regrettable issue that continues to affect four countries, that is the issue of the visa-waiver programme, or rather the lack of visa-free movement. This is incomprehensible and, as my fellow Members have said, there are no rational arguments for continuing to obstruct the visa-free movement of the citizens of these four Member States of the European Union.


  Ioan Mircea Paşcu (S&D). - Madam President, the current financial crisis is by far the gravest challenge we face in common. We are being challenged both separately – Europe in its very integration, the US in its world-leading role – but most importantly together as the West.

However, given the complexity of our relations, we need a more strategic dialogue, educating the new elites on both sides of the Atlantic on our common stakes regarding primarily the current financial crisis, the Middle East, the revolutions in the Arab world, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran as well as the BRIC countries.

In security terms, due to the absence of major threats to Europe and the shift of US attention towards the Pacific, we run the risk of a diminished US participation in ensuring the security of our continent. To avoid it, one needs to increase, not decrease our own defence efforts in both the UN and NATO and address the potential negative impact of decision-making fragmentation.


  Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, I am hugely supportive of transatlantic dialogue. In today’s global markets, the EU must be talking at all levels to its key partners around the world.

When, in September 2010, the Heads of State of the G20 got together to agree to better regulate the world’s financial markets, they set out a few broad principles for the reform of the derivatives markets. It has now fallen upon legislators and regulatory bodies to make these principles a reality.

Parliament, together with the Council and Commission, have added much of the detail and have fleshed out many of those principles agreed at G20, so as to create better-regulated, more stable and fairer derivative markets.

However, we must not forget that this was a G20 commitment. The significance of this is that we must ensure that all the G20 markets not only implement those commitments, but also implement them in a way which allows them to fit together globally.

We must not get caught up in making our markets so secure that no one outside of Europe can access them. Likewise, the Dodd-Frank Act needs to be interpreted in a non-protectionist way.

I urge all those attending the EU-US summit not to get caught up in equivalence and comparability of legislation or, worse, reciprocity, but instead to look at ways of bringing together disparate systems so they can interact in a smooth and predictable way.

While we must work to ensure that Dodd-Frank in the US and EMIR and MiFID in the EU fit together, we must not forget about the other members of G20 and their financial market regulation, making certain that Asian, American and European capital can flow through the system in a transparent and safe way. This should be our ultimate goal.


  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the EU-US summit undoubtedly takes on a fundamental role, especially in such troubled times of market turbulence, international crisis and a search by both the United States and the European Union for security for their citizens on one hand and, on the other, for prosperity in such complex circumstances.

Terrorism and organised crime must be tackled vigorously, and we must not forget that the negotiations to draw up the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement once and for all have just begun; this agreement should result in greater exchange of information and an increasingly decisive clampdown on terrorism. The transatlantic dialogue is fundamental for our citizens’ well-being and also to help developing countries more effectively through targeted and coordinated actions. We call for fewer tariff barriers, greater economic competitiveness and real cooperation based on trust. We want to see public procurement procedures that acknowledge the principle of reciprocity, as may happen reasonably soon in an EU-Canada trade agreement, which is currently at an advanced stage. Increasingly high levels of consumer protection are needed; there is also an agreement on gambling, which at the moment is still under consideration and ought to be taken forward. Companies in the European regions and Member States need access to the privileged market – so to speak – in the United States in order to ensure growth and competitive development. At the same time, we must keep an eye on the countries suffering in the Mediterranean, not least to sustain this wind of freedom. Another area is legal migration and protection for the labour market. Dialogue is needed to stabilise the euro area and protect it, with US support, from world market turbulence. Furthermore, information must be able to flow in the field of research, based on innovation, to ensure the health of both European and US citizens, and on real, concrete cooperation.


  Judith A. Merkies (S&D).(NL) Madam President, Commissioner, I would like to draw your attention to a report that you have also been involved with yourself, namely the report on raw materials. I have still not heard you speak on this subject, while everyone knows that, at this point in time, prices for raw materials are very high, with major scarcity on the horizon. We really need to do something about this. Will you also discuss this matter? Alongside many other crises – the economic crisis, the climate crisis – there is, of course, also the raw materials shortage crisis, which we can solve in a variety of ways.

I also have a question about energy efficiency and the energy saving agenda. It is very important for climate change that, all over the world, we look not only to renewable energy, but also to energy efficiency, in our own countries and also in developing countries. Is this also on the agenda for ourselves, as well as the funds to support this in the developing world?


  Seán Kelly (PPE). - Madam President, I have listened to the debate very closely and it is certainly very important to have a close relationship between the US and the European Union. As a member of the EU-US Delegation, I am pleased to be involved, partially at least, in that whole area and looking forward to a visit to Jacksonville in a couple of weeks.

However, one of the downsides in democracy is the fact that people have to be re-elected. As somebody said recently in regard to Europe, we know what to do but the problem is that, if we do it, we will not be re-elected. That will probably come into play, particularly with the American Presidential election now upcoming.

Nevertheless, we have to grasp the opportunity to deal with matters that can be of use to people when they are going to be re-elected, and particularly in relation to job creation and the issues of climate change and security. I think they are the areas that we need to focus on in particular at this Summit. It is also a great opportunity to give status and recognition to new instruments, President Van Rompuy in particular.




  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE). - Madam President, last week the ALDE Group held a conference in Helsinki that addressed the deterioration of human rights and democracy in Russia, the conclusions of which the High Representative is familiar with. We decided to call for reconsidering the EU policy towards Russia if the Parliamentary and Presidential elections are not held in line with the standards for free and fair elections – which seems to be the case.

As a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), Russia has taken international obligations upon itself. Therefore, the elections cannot be regarded as an internal matter of the country. The rise of authoritarianism in Russia requires an unequivocal international response, which is why I would ask the High Representative to raise this issue at the EU-US summit in Washington DC.


  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL).(PT) Madam President, it is important to clarify two issues in this debate. The first is regarding Cuba. We know that the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has once again almost unanimously condemned the unacceptable economic embargo of the United States on Cuba. This embargo is Cuba’s main obstacle to economic and social progress, and is a flagrant and systematic violation of the Cuban people’s human rights. Taking this into consideration, I would like to ask you if you do not consider there to be an urgent need, in the context of a dialogue between the EU and the US, for the EU to adopt an autonomous position and advocate an end to the economic embargo on Cuba?

Do you not believe that this condemnation of the embargo also, once again, makes clear the injustice of maintaining a common EU position on Cuba?

The second issue is Palestine. Do you not believe it is time to immediately recognise the Palestinian State and accept its request to join the UN, as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has already done, in spite of the embargo that the US continues to uphold?


  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Madam President, the United States is Europe’s most important international partner. The November summit should therefore help us to make progress on the majority of unresolved issues.

The discussions on the agreement with the US to provide data on air travellers have been ongoing for some time now, as the previous version of the agreement infringes the relevant EU legislation on personal data protection. Our divergent views on security systems using body scans and the ban on taking liquids on board planes also affect air travel.

Another unresolved issue is the fact that most EU countries have not been included in the visa-free programmes with the United States. We regard the European Union as a common area of 27 associated states holding common democratic values, which is why the differentiated approach of the US to some Member States is unjustified.

It would also be a good idea to discuss our mutual positions on the political changes in the Arab world. Perhaps then we would be able to better coordinate some of our steps in this environment.


  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Madam President, I have taken good note of all the remarks that have been made and I will forward them to Catherine Ashton. Let me very briefly go into a number of topics.

I had some questions on zeroing. We are making good progress on that. It is a very technical topic; it is about import duties, and you have the cases of the future, the present and the past. For the future, it will be resolved in the coming days because it is going through Congress, most probably before the end of the year. There are also very good prospects for the existing cases and how they will be translated into the new system. Concerning the past, there is still a discussion on damages that should be paid state to state by the US to the European Union. So we are making steady progress with respect to that.

On nanotechnology: there was an interesting question, because we are discussing with the US a common definition of nanotechnology. In the meantime, the Commission has put forward a definition. There is a good reason for doing so because, in several directives that you have been discussing and that you have voted on in Parliament, you have different definitions of nanotechnology. To try at least to come up with a common definition, we should of course start from one European definition and not from five different ones; that is the reason why we have presented a definition of nanotechnology.

On raw materials: yes, we are working together with the US on raw materials, and that is in the 2010 TEC. The EU and US have launched the EU-US Innovation Action Partnership, which is a framework for developing trade policy strategies to eliminate barriers and to improve the investment and innovation climate by working together on research, recycling, use, transport and extraction of raw materials. The business community has shown a lot of interest in these issues and is pushing for results. Four work streams were proposed by the TABD in their letter of 10 May: trade, material flaws research, recycling and waste. They constitute a good basis, but they need to be operationalised.

The European Union and the US are working on an EU-US roadmap on raw materials. It will build on the elements in the IAP but include concrete action items and timelines, and it could be endorsed by TEC principles. You will also know that we have together been fighting a case against China before the WTO, and that we won it, on raw materials.

Another topic that has come to the fore a couple of times is visas. The Commission attaches great importance to the admission of the four remaining EU Member States – Bulgaria, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – to the US visa waiver programme and we are continuing to work with US counterparts on solving this issue.

In relation to the introduction of the ESTA fee for travel under the visa waiver programme, the Commission has repeatedly voiced concern that these new requirements are inconsistent with US commitments to facilitate transatlantic mobility and constitute an additional burden for European citizens travelling to the US.

Is Iran going to be discussed at the Summit? The situation in Iran is worrying and we are cooperating with the US closely. We shall continue discussions among the E3+3 concerning Iran’s nuclear programme. In view of the deteriorating human rights situation, we have reinforced the EU’s restrictive measures against persons responsible for serious human rights violations in Iran, adding 29 persons to the list of those targeted by an assets freeze and a visa ban.

In light of the new IAEA report, which is to be considered by the Board of Governors, there are increasing concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme and the lack of progress in diplomatic efforts. The EU condemns the continuous expansion of Iran’s enrichment programme and we are particularly concerned at the findings of the IAEA report. We are urging Iran to address international concerns over the nature of its nuclear programme through full cooperation with the IAEA and by demonstrating readiness to engage seriously in concrete discussions on confidence-building steps, as proposed by the High Representative/Vice-President on behalf of the E3+3.

There were a lot of questions also on data protection and how long it will take to finalise the negotiations. The negotiations started just six months ago. We have identified a number of important issues that will probably require several rounds of further discussions. Considering the complexity of many of the issues and the diverging points of view, negotiations will continue until the agreement is ripe to conclude, especially if we want to achieve added value for our citizens. It will take time, but that is the effort I believe that we have to make.


  Franz Obermayr (NI).(DE) Madam President, unfortunately, I must once again bring up the old familiar subject of ‘catch the eye’. The EU-US summit on 28 November is not just any old issue – it is not a trivial matter – it is a very important one. Therefore, I cannot understand why more time has not been allowed for catch the eye. Secondly, Madam President, for you and your predecessor: I cannot understand why you are so tolerant when speakers exceed their speaking time by 30 to 40 seconds – I have noted it exactly – with the result that there is no time left for those who sit here and may wish to take the floor under the catch-the-eye procedure. I would like to make the point once again that that is not fair. In my opinion, those colleagues in particular who gladly talk about solidarity, but then exceed their speaking time by 40 seconds are, in so doing, acting improperly. That ought to be noted accordingly by you and by the President so that a balance is maintained here and, above all, the same standards are applied to everyone.


  President. − Mr Obermayr, you will know that I have only just taken over the chair. I was about to make a statement at the beginning of the next debate which said that we are running very, very late and will all colleagues, as I often say, please respect the speaking time, because I will be using this. If you do not, you infringe upon the speaking rights of your other colleagues exactly. So I will be watching, and I will be banging this thing which I hate to do, but we are going to have to do so today. I am sorry to end this debate on that note.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow (17 November 2011).

Written statements (Rule 149)


  Ágnes Hankiss (PPE), in writing.(HU) The tracking and processing of both banking and passenger traffic data provides law enforcement agencies with an effective tool in their fight against terrorism and organised crime. It is welcome that agreements on both the TFTP and the PNR have been concluded or are in the process of being concluded between the EU and its allies, and address most of the human rights concerns expressed by the European Parliament, incorporating guarantees for the prevention and ex-post remediation of potential infringements into these conventions. I would like to highlight, not for the first time, one aspect: the need for mutuality. The EU should not only give, but also receive information essential for law enforcement from the US based on reciprocity and as an equal partner. This, however, would require the EU to clarify to the US which one of its bodies or agencies, invested with full powers, is capable of receiving and evaluating data from the US in line with the fusion principle, and of continuously supplying Member States with information relevant to them.


  Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. Both the EU and the USA are not only facing an economic and financial crisis, but also a crisis of values and value-driven politics. It is high time that both sides agreed on the need to conduct a common value-driven policy at a global level. Being the two biggest economies in the world, the EU and USA can efficiently cooperate to solve the crisis only on condition of re-enforcing the moral and ethical basis of their actions. I call on the EU to put greater effort into strengthening and enhancing EU-US relations and to step up the Transatlantic partnership. It is highly important that the Transatlantic economic area and Transatlantic market be given key priority in the EU’s agenda. As the Commission has underlined, the EU and US economies are interlinked and this calls for common efforts. Both sides have to realize the crucial importance and strategic value of their partnership while acting on the global scene. Close relations with China and Russia are important, but can never replace the unique bond and partnership the EU and USA have been sharing for decades. This will help us, among other issues, to successfully and rapidly harmonize differences concerning security measures applied to passengers and cargoes.


  Cristian Dan Preda (PPE), in writing. (RO) I would like to welcome today’s debate on the EU-US Summit to be held on 28 November 2011. Transatlantic relations have been and still are of paramount importance to Europe as the United States is our natural ally, with not only a common history, but also important values binding us. This is why, during times of economic and financial crisis, it is crucial that both these transatlantic partners adopt a coordinated response to the global economic challenges and devise together new strategies for promoting economic growth and job creation.

At the same time, the events in the southern Mediterranean make us reflect together on the ways to promote common values in this region, such as democracy, pluralism and human rights. However, the recent challenges must not make us lose sight of certain fundamental issues in EU-US relations. I would therefore like to draw attention to item 24 of the resolution, which I initiated, and which stresses the need to raise with the US, both at technical and political level, the issue of admitting the four remaining EU Member States to the visa waiver programme. In Romania’s case, this is an issue which must be dealt with urgently.


  Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. (IT) Iran continues to claim that it wants to develop a nuclear programme for civilian purposes. In fact, however, it has carried out research and set up facilities for military purposes, as verified in recent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Its nuclear ambitions, which in themselves are worrying, are accompanied by a policy of internal repression and aggression towards other countries in the area, such as Saudi Arabia and particularly Israel. This threat has not only political and military repercussions but also economic and strategic ones, because it may affect oil production and thus have economic and financial consequences that would have a direct impact on us as well. A global threat needs a global response. It is therefore crucial to establish very close cooperation with the United States regarding all measures that may from time to time become necessary, such as imposing further, more incisive sanctions on Tehran. I hope it is not already too late.

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