Friday

14th Aug 2020

Obama 'very engaged' in eurozone rescue talks

US President Barack Obama is "very engaged" in talks with EU leaders on the eurozone rescue, but is keeping his advice behind closed doors rather than adding to the "cacophony" of solutions floated publicly, Washington's envoy to Brussels William Kennard told reporters on Friday (2 December).

With the experience of the 2009 financial crisis, the US administration "can offer a lot of advice, but we made a point in not discussing it publicly," Kennard said.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Active behind the scenes, restrained in public: Obama does not want to add to 'cacophony' of eurozone solutions (Photo: White House)

Ever since the G20 summit in Cannes last month, Obama "has been very engaged privately" on the eurozone crisis and "made many phone calls and bilateral meetings to offer his advice," the ambassador added, without wanting to go into any specifics of the solutions backed by Washington.

One of them, as reported in the financial media, is for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to take a leading role in the rescue. Kennard said that the IMF option was "not part of the discussion" at an EU-US summit in Washington on Monday and Tuesday.

As to whether the international finance body is big enough to afford loans to large eurozone countries like Italy or would need extra cash from the US coffers, the ambassador said only one thing: "We feel the IMF has sufficient resources to deal with this."

With Germany still opposing the creation of eurobonds and the permission for the European Central Bank to intervene massively in helping countries like Italy and Spain borrow money from the markets, the sense of urgency was once again spelled out by Obama during his meeting with Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and commission chair Jose Manuel Barroso.

"President Obama has repeatedly said we want to see bold, quick and decisive action by EU leaders. I think European leaders would like to see the same thing, but it's a difficult political structure," the ambassador said, stressing that Europe has the resources and capacity to solve this crisis on its own.

Compared to the EU-US summit last year, which was hold for a few hours on the margins of a two-day Nato summit in Lisbon, this time the "chemistry was particularly good", the ambassador said. "It was better as it was at the White House. In Lisbon it was a little awkward, because it was nobody's turf."

It also helped that the leaders already knew each other and that their talks had "substance" - the eurozone crisis.

"President Obama said our summits are not dramatic events, because we're not trying to convince each other of our position, we take stock and strategise forward," the ambassador said, noting that in the major foreign policy dossiers the two sides of the Atlantic are on the same page, which was not the case with previous administration.

During the summit, leaders also decided to set up a working group on 'jobs and growth' which may lead to the conclusion of a free trade agreement between the EU and US, but also other areas of common rules and standards, for instance when it comes to electric cars or smart energy grids.

Kennard mentioned a possible "common regulatory approach" on nanotechnology and joint standards for inter-operable health records.

"We try to have compatible regimes, which would be good both for businesses and for consumers to have confidence in the transatlantic space," he noted.

Frustration on eurozone crisis to mark EU-US summit

EU and US leaders will gather for a bilateral meeting on Monday with little of substance likely to be agreed and against a backdrop of exasperation in Washington over the handling of the eurozone crisis.

Opinion

Time for honest audit of EU-US relations

The electoral year in the United States poses a challenge to Europeans. The EU and the US now, more than ever, need an honest discussion about their partnership, writes Patryk Pawlak.

Analysis

Eurozone crisis spooks US election

Obama is working the phones with eurozone leaders as the euro crisis threatens his re-election. Meanwhile, his populist opponent has cast Europe as a bogeyman, saying the US could become Greece.

Top EU officials urge MEPs give quick budget-deal approval

MEPs criticised the EU deal on the budget and recovery package clinched by leaders after five days of gruelling talks, saying it is not enough "future-oriented", and cuts too deeply into EU policies, including health, innovation, defence and humanitarian aid

EU Parliament gears up for fight on budget deal

European parliament president David Sassoli said certain corrections will have to be made in the budget, citing research and the Erasmus program for students, calling the cuts "unjustified".

News in Brief

  1. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  2. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says
  3. EU to finance new Covid-19 research projects
  4. Croatia receives EU earthquake relief funds
  5. Facemasks required throughout Brussels
  6. EU opposes Mexico's transparent junk food labels
  7. Greece accuses Turkey of 'escalation' in maritime dispute
  8. Slovakia expels three Russians linked to Berlin murder

EU forecasts deeper recession, amid recovery funds row

The economies of France, Italy and Spain will contract more then 10-percent this year, according to the latest forecast by the EU executive, as it urges member state governments to strike a deal on the budget and recovery package.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Belarus violence goes on, as EU ministers scramble
  2. French navy to deter Turkey's oil and gas grab
  3. EU ministers urged to talk Belarus, Turkey sanctions
  4. Drums of war again, in Europe
  5. EU looks on as Belarus protests turn lethal
  6. EU virus-alert agency says new restrictions needed
  7. Minsk violence prompts talk of EU sanctions
  8. Schrems privacy ruling risks EU's ties to digital world

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us