In this speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, on 11 February 2005 in Washington DC, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson argues that there remains a fundamental community of values and interests between Europe and the US. He describes trade and investment as the bedrock of the EU US relationship. He calls for the EU and the US to work together in the world and to strengthen their bilateral ties - giving leadership on the Doha round and improving the environment for transatlantic business.
“As you know this is my first visit to Washington in my new job. I was pleased to be able to come here before Bob Zoellick leaves his position as United States Trade Representative. He has made an outstanding contribution in that role and I am delighted that he will still be alongside us in the State Department. And, it goes without saying, I look forward to working very closely with his successor.
“The political bond between Europe’s democracies and America is deep. In the 20th Century we saved the world from fascism and then from communism. America’s power was essential for this. America’s steadfastness then made it possible for Europe to be reunited.
“We in Europe have not, I hope, forgotten the debt we owe.
“But our partnership has made an uncertain start to the 21st Century. Iraq was the most obvious cause of differences. But there have been others, such as how to respond to climate change. The differences of our societies and political cultures have been ruthlessly examined by Kagan and others. There is a fashionable argument that we are fundamentally and structurally diverging.
“Last but not least, the economic relationship between Europe and America. Starting with the disputes. In our relationship I have found that people tend to focus on the negative. That’s normal, particularly in the media. Our bilateral trade is enormous. Inevitably there are disputes, and because Europe and America are big, our disputes are big news. They are important, and they are very political. In my short time in the job I have already understood that they absorb disproportionate amounts of energy.
“We must set ourselves the objective of handling these disputes in a way that prevents them from dominating our agenda. In the roughly two and a half months I have been in office the bulk of my discussion with Bob Zoellick has been dominated by civil aviation subsidies. More than the Doha Round. More than how to deal with poverty in Africa. More than how we can use trade to underpin progress in the Middle East Peace Process. I think this is a pity.
“I am pleased on aircraft that we have been able to agree a framework for negotiation. It will be difficult to turn this into a solution of the problem but I am determined to try. Because I believe that we have to work constructively for fair solutions to these problems. My inclination is to negotiate where possible and to use formal dispute settlement only as a last resort.
“Of course the formal dispute settlement gives us an essential framework for negotiation and in every sense it is invaluable. But it cannot absolve us of political responsibility. I come to this job determined to solve problems where I can. I want to liberate our political energy in the pursuit of positive objectives.
“So I am not going today to run through the litany of bilateral disputes. They are familiar to all of us. Sometimes they seem to generate more heat than light. Just let me assure you that, while I will defend European interests and rights with absolute conviction and determination, as you would expect US negotiators to do on their side, I will do so in a constructive spirit, seeking positive outcomes. (ends of exceprt)
Click here to read the full text of the speech, on the European Commission website (HTML format)