Frustration on eurozone crisis to mark EU-US summit
By Honor Mahony
EU and US leaders will gather for a bilateral meeting on Monday (28 November) with little of substance likely to be agreed and against a backdrop of exasperation in Washington over the handling of the eurozone crisis.
EU presidents Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy as well as foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and EU trade chief Karel De Gucht will take part in the summit, which is expected to see discussion on international issues such as Iran's nuclear programme, violence in Syria and the fears about Egypt's fledgling democracy, but which will be dominated by the economy.
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European diplomatic circles say Washington is to reiterate its concerns about the fallout of the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone on the US and global economy.
But Europe has little new to report since its leaders last met US President Barack Obama some three weeks ago in the G20 format of indsutrialised nations in the South of France.
The meeting saw the EU humiliated by the reluctance of other countries, such as China, to contribute to the eurozone's undernourished bail-out fund.
In addition, Obama poked fun at the EU's propensity for prevarication, noting there are "a lot of meetings in Europe. Trying to co-ordinate all those different interests is laborious, it's time consuming."
Meanwhile, the eurozone crisis has intensified.
Germany, the continent's economic powerhouse and the country seen as the safest bet by markets, showe signs of contagion last week in a poor bond auction. Bazooka solutions, such as making the European Central Bank the lender of last resort, remain highly controversial.
From the European side, there is an intention to ask about Obama's own backyard economic problems. A US "super committee" of legislators last week failed to agree a deal to cut spending by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.
The rising power of Asia, both economically and politically, is also expected to come up, with the EU alert to signs it is slipping down the world's political food chain.
While the EU leaders still get their special summits with Obama, they will be well aware he has just come back from a 10-day trip in Asia. A recent article by US foreign secretary Hillary Clinton in Foreign Policy magazine referred to "America's Pacific century."
The agenda of the summit itself is also missing an issue close to Europeans hearts - there is to be no formal discussion on climate change, a staple of bygone summits.
EU leaders are keen to see further international agreement on lowering greenhouse gas emissions after a global pact expires next year.
Washington, which did not sign up to the old pact in any case, has shown little interest in a further agreement.
A survey, published at the beginning of 2011 by the Pew Research Center, on what should be the US' top policy priorities saw climate change come in almost last out of 22 subjects, just ahead of obesity.