Monday

18th Oct 2021

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

Become an expert on Europe

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.

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.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Poland legalises refugee pushbacks
  2. Report: China's Xi to snub UK climate summit
  3. Norway killings 'appeared to be' Islamist 'terrorism'
  4. Le Pen vows to 'dismantle' wind-power plants
  5. Slovenia PM tweets antisemitic conspiracy theory
  6. Italy sentences ship captain for Libya pushback
  7. Polish PM and von der Leyen to clash in Brussels next week
  8. MEPs call for improved roaming rules

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew report reveals bad environmental habits
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersImproving the integration of young refugees
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge Sassoli to sue EU Commission on rule of law
  2. MEPs seek EU law on bogus anti-media litigation
  3. Africa seeks EU help on global vaccine-waiver
  4. Giant of 20th century European design recognised by EU
  5. Italy on edge as neo-fascists stir violence
  6. Gas-price spike will backfire on industry, energy guru says
  7. Scientists raise alarm on Greenland's ice-sheet loss
  8. EU calls for ban on Arctic oil and gas drilling

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us