Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join 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.

Greek bailout exit takes shape

At a meeting next week, eurozone finance ministers and the IMF are expected to agree on new cash, debt relief measures, and a monitoring mechanism to ensure that Greece can live without international aid for the first time since 2010.

Opinion

Eurozone needs institutional reform

Both the examples of Greece and Italy test the limits of a system with inherent weaknesses that feeds internal gaps, strengthens deficits and debts in the European South, and surpluses in the European North respectively.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Audi CEO arrested over Dieselgate
  2. EU-Australia trade talks kick off in Brussels next month
  3. France and Germany moving closer to eurozone reform
  4. Merkel to meet Conte to find migration compromise
  5. Seehofer gives Merkel time to strike EU migration deal
  6. Schroeder and Sarkozy appear with Putin at World Cup
  7. Tennis champ and 'EU diplomat' claims immunity
  8. Italy threatens to ditch EU-Canada free trade deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  2. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. Orban to EPP: turn 'Christian democratic' or face challenge
  2. Is EU retail sector equipped for 21st century?
  3. Tear gas bodes ill for Macedonia name deal
  4. EU asylum claims drop, Germany registers most
  5. EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too
  6. Basque threat of 'second front' for independence
  7. Progressive regulation needed now for 21st century finance
  8. Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us