Tuesday

24th Oct 2017

US has no closer partner than Europe, says Obama

  • Barack Obama said the summit was not very exciting (Photo: Valentina Pop)

EU leaders meeting US President Barack Obama on Saturday chose not to discuss any contentious matters in an exercise meant to show how well the transatlantic relationship works, after Mr Obama had snubbed them earlier this year.

"This summit was not as exciting as other summits, because we basically agree on everything," Mr Obama told reporters on Saturday night, after a two-day marathon session of meetings at the Nato summit in Lisbon, ending with a two-hour session with EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"Nevertheless," Mr Obama argued, "I value these meetings" because the US "has no closer partner than Europe."

The reassurances about the importance of EU-US relation come after Mr Obama earlier this year rejected an invitation to Madrid by the then Spanish EU presidency, with White House officials citing the need for the Europeans to make up their minds who represents the EU.

Spanish premier Jose Rodriguez Zapatero had seized the opportunity of a "transitional" period as the new EU rulebook just came into force, to try and organise the EU-US summit himself instead of Mr Van Rompuy.

"Today marked our first summit under EU's new Lisbon Treaty and it was wonderful to meet Cathy Ashton, who is doing an outstanding work," Mr Obama said in Lisbon.

As for the concrete outcome of the meeting, which Mr Barroso described as "intimate, friendly and focussed", the three politicians could point to little other than a "working group" on cybersecurity which will report back to leaders in a year's time and to step up the activity of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) looking at regulatory regimes and business-friendly climate on both sides of the Atlantic.

Mr Obama also stressed the need for EU's police training mission to Afghanistan to step up its act, after Nato leaders and partners had just decided to begin the security hand-over to Afghan troops in 2014.

Mr Van Rompuy, for his part, said that a "speedy compromise" on an overarching EU-US data protection agreement may facilitate the conclusion of other data transfer deals - for instance on passenger name records (PNR).

This was the only midly contentious matter taken up from a wishlist adopted by the European Parliament in the run-up to the EU-US summit. More controversial matters requested by MEPs were not brought up, including the call for an independent inquiry into Iraqi torture condoned by US and British troops, after the publication of secret war logs by Wikileaks.

The US leader took no questions from the press after his five-minute remarks and headed directly to the airport, in his armoured Cadillac.

The ambassadors of the EU to Washington, Joao Vale de Almeida and William Kennard, US' envoy to Brussels later on jointly briefed the press and answered questions "on behalf" of their leaders.

Asked why the EU leaders chose to remain silent on the more contentious matters with the US, Mr de Almeida argued that "when you have a summit with best friends, the level of disputes is low."

There may be "differences", such as on data privacy, but "no big problems" as there are in US' relations with other countries, the former chief of staff of Mr Barroso said.

Mr Kennard said that "because the relationship is healthy and working, we can focus on challenges outside the EU or the US, such as Iran and the Middle East."

On the working group on cybersecurity, the US envoy said that "it is building on a lot of work going on already" and that unlike the efforts in Nato to counter cyber attacks on military networks, this will focus on the "commercial side" and potential threats to the regular consumer.

Survey shows US losing interest in EU

People in the US and in Turkey have told a major pollster that relations with Asian countries are more important for their future than relations with the EU.

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.

Investigation

The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals

Klaus Mangold, a German businessman with good connections in Russia, and who provided a jet for Commission vice-president Guenther Oettinger, played a crucial role in Hungary's controversial Paks nuclear deal with Russia, Direkt36's investigation has found.

Macron puts trade policy on summit table

France's president wants a "political discussion" on EU trade policies at Thursday's summit, amid domestic concerns over Canada and South America deals. But his colleagues are likely to avoid a lengthy debate.

News in Brief

  1. Tusk: It's up to London to have a good Brexit deal
  2. Bettel wants more ministerial meetings on digital
  3. Austria's Kurz to open coalition talks with far-right
  4. Estonia: Finalising digital market before 2019 'do-able'
  5. Don't let City of London 'drift away', Luxembourg warns
  6. Far-right enters German parliament officially
  7. Orban declares migrant-free zone in Eastern Europe
  8. Madrid set to use force to stop Catalonia independence

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. A Soul for EuropeWho Assumes Responsibility for Europe?' Conference on 10-11 November in Berlin.
  2. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  3. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  4. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  5. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  6. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  7. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  8. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  10. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  11. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  12. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!