11th Dec 2019

Expectations low ahead of EU-US summit

  • The two sides continue to differ strongly on the issue of climate change (Photo: EUobserver)

The EU and the US are to meet on Tuesday (10 June) to freshen up transatlantic relations, with issues such as Iran, climate change, the current food price crisis and US visa policy on the table.

But expectations about what the bilateral summit can bring are low as US President George W. Bush's term in office winds down.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

According to Antonio Missiroli from the Brussels-based European Policy Centre, the summit is unlikely to produce great headlines. "We have the president who is a lame-duck...and EU leaders entirely focused on his two possible successors," he said.

Americans will elect a new resident of the White House in November, deciding between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barak Obama.

In addition, this year's meeting does not deal with any issue that is ripe for a breakthrough announcement, Mr Missiroli said. He also pointed to the politically sensitivity surrounding the Doha development round of world trade talks.

According to the analyst, this is the only domain with a slight window of opportunity for progress, as Mr Bush's mandate granted by the US Congress expires in July. "But nobody wants to publicly talk about it because of the Irish referendum," he added, referring to Ireland's important vote on the Lisbon Treaty on Thursday.

The Doha development round - which began in 2001 with the aim of cutting farm subsidies and tariffs and boosting free trade - has featured highly in the pre-referendum debate in Ireland.

Climate change and visa divisions

Where the two continents strongly disagree is the fight against global warming as Washington refuses to commit to ambitious green goals unless emerging economies such as China and India are on board as well.

"President Bush has said that he will undertake for the United States internationally binding emissions commitments, so long as all major economies, developed and major developing economies, are willing to do the same," national security advisor to president Bush, Stephen Hadley, said ahead of the EU-US summit.

Slovene foreign minister Dmitrij Rupel, speaking on behalf of his country's EU presidency, put it bluntly last week by saying: "on climate change, the positions are split".

Besides climate change, the EU is set to flag up the issue of visas - with several eastern European countries keen to be a part of the US visa waiver systems - as well as seek clarification over proposed US travel restrictions, including an electronic system of travel authorisation designed to electronically collect data on all European travellers.

"I would remind the US of their stated commitment to tackle the issues of visas," EU commissioner Gunter Verheugen said last week.

The US is also set to discuss the tensions in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia and Russia's involvement. "We expect the leaders will join in urging Russia to reverse its provocative actions in the separatist regions and to respect Georgia's territorial integrity and sovereignty," Mr Hadley said.

He also flagged up the topic of Iran's nuclear programme, saying the summit should deal with "how best to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons via diplomatic efforts, both multilaterally and unilaterally, but also through imposing greater sanctions under the UN Security Council."

Guns blaze in Ukraine as leaders meet in Paris

Hundreds of explosions and bursts of small arms fire were reported on the contact line in east Ukraine, as France prepares to host the first peace summit on the war in three years.


Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion

The Arctic future conference kicked off with optimistic presentations by ministers and officials of the Russian government — but also a burst of scepticism from representatives of those actually living in Russia's Arctic and Far East regions.

Macron spars with US and Turkey over Nato

French president Emmanuel Macron clashed with US president Donald Trump and Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Nato, as the future of the alliance begins to fray following Ankara's invasion into north-east Syria in October.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary asked to apologise after council leak
  2. MEPs: Finnish budget proposal 'impossible to implement'
  3. EP committee supports 'Future of EU Conference'
  4. EU survey: climate change must be parliament's priority
  5. Zahradil resigns as rapporteur on EU-Vietnam trade deal
  6. Russia plans 'Arctic Air Defence" with S-400 missiles
  7. Belgium: King does another round of consultations
  8. Thousands protest Orban's theatre clampdown


EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Hungary quizzed over EU rules amid twitter row
  2. Spanish King meets party leaders to break deadlock
  3. EU alarmed by prospects of battle for Tripoli
  4. EU must manage climate and industry together
  5. Does Malta's Labour Party now belong in S&D?
  6. Green Deal targets pit Left against Right in parliament
  7. Human rights abusers to face future EU blacklists
  8. Zahradil 'conflict of interest' probe may flounder

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us