Thursday

20th Jun 2019

EU-US Summit starts Wednesday

Representatives from the European Union will today meet their US counterparts in Washington. This one day summit, which is part of regular biannual talks, will focus mainly on the results of the Copenhagen Summit and the implications these will have for transatlantic relations.

The EU will be represented by Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, Chris Patten the external relations commissioner, and Per Stig Moller, the Danish foreign minister. There they will meet a US delegation headed by Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Geopolitical implications of enlarged EU

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  • The EU-US Summit begins today in Washington - the list of issues to be discussed is long. (Photo: EUobserver)

Both sides will examine closely the geopolitical implications that an enlarged EU of 25 will have on EU-US relations. They are also set to look at the compromise reached on Turkey for EU membership. In the run-up to the Copenhagen Summit, the US lobbied extremely hard - mainly for tactical military reasons - for Turkey to get a date. In the end, the EU 15 agreed to re-examine the issue of Turkey's membership in 2004. Whitehouse spokesman Ari Fleischer broadly welcomed the decision saying "Turkey's continued evolution towards Europe demonstrates for the Continent and the world that Islam and democracy are fully compatible." But Americans will be keen to know just exactly what the decision entails.

While the Danish foreign minister says: "I expect my visit to underline once again that the ties that unite the EU and the USA are far more important than issues that divide," there are, as usual, many bones of contention.

Iraq

One point of disagreement is Iraq and a possible military strike against Baghdad. The US has been loud in claiming that Iraq is building weapons of mass destruction. EU member states have reacted slowly and diversely. At the end of this week, Washington is set to put before the United Nations Security Council an analysis of the 12,000 page document that Saddam Hussein says proves that his country is not building a hoard of weapons. From the very beginning Washington has reacted sceptically to the document, while Europe has been more cautious. Hans Blix, the UN chief weapons inspector will report to the UN assembly tomorrow on his team's findings.

The EU and the US will also look at the situation in other countries including Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Afghanistan and Africa.

Fight against terrorism

The common fight against terrorism will also be examined. In aftermath of the September 11 attacks last year, both sides vowed to step up co-operation. However there are still points of controversy such as how to approach the extradition or exchange of information on suspects risking the death penalty in the United States.

The Bush administration has pushed for a judicial cooperation convention that would cover the criminal investigations, under which the exchange of personal data concerning suspects would be the rule, especially as concerns terrorism. The Danish EU presidency has announced an agreement between the European Police Unit, Europol, and the United States providing for the exchange of personal data should be concluded before the end of the year. The European Prosecution Unit, Eurojust, and the relevant US authorities would consider negotiations on similar co-operation agreements.

Trade and more... steel

Other issues will trade policy. A commission report published last month slammed US trade policy calling it protectionist and accusing Washington of failing to implement policies. A few of the issues that had a special mention include steel (the US infuriated the EU when it introduced protectionist tariffs earlier this year), agricultural subsidies, intellectual copyright, merchandise processing and implementation of the EU-US mutual recognition agreement.

After this full agenda in the US, another one day summit, this time in Canada, will take place on Thursday.

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