Recently in Europe & U.S. Category

Kerry’s ‘Listening Tour’ Gets Underway February 24

On his first trip abroad, which gets underway February 24 and ends on March 6, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry “will travel to the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar,” according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. See “Secretary of State John Kerry's Travel to Europe and the Middle East” for what will be discussed during the visit to each country.

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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

At the November 28, 2011, annual summit in Washington, D.C. between the European Union and the United States,  a “U.S.-E.U. High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth” was assigned the task of laying the foundation for trade talks between the two allies. See the group’s final report.

U.S. President Barack Obama made reference to the talks in his February 12, 2013, State of the Union address. This is what he said:

Now, even as we protect our people, we should remember that today’s world presents not just dangers, not just threats, it presents opportunities.  President_Barack_ObamaTo boost American exports, support American jobs and level the playing field in the growing markets of Asia, we intend to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership.  And tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union -- because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.  (Applause.)

The Staggers, the New Statesman’s rolling politics blog, noted in a February 14, 2013, analysis that:

Full negotiations on a deal looking not just on the elimination of tariff barriers but also on harmonising regulatory and technical standards for products could generate 2 per cent of GDP on its own. EU officials think that, by itself, a US trade deal could translate into €275bn per year for the European economy and two million new jobs.” See “EU-US free trade talks show why Britain is better off in.
Meanwhile, on February 13, 2013, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), which is part of the Executive Office of the President, issued a “Fact Sheet” on the talks. According to the press release:
A successfully negotiated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership would aim to boost economic growth in the United States and Europe and add to the over 13 million American and European jobs already supported by transatlantic trade and investment. In particular, the Partnership would aim to:

• Further open markets to grow the $459 billion in U.S. goods and services exports to the EU, our largest export market, which already supports an estimated 2.4 million well-paying American jobs.

• Strengthen rules-based investment to grow the world’s largest investment relationship. The United States and the EU already maintain a total of nearly $4 trillion in investment in each other’s economies, supporting nearly 7 million jobs.

• Tackle costly “behind the border” non-tariff barriers that impede the flow of goods and services trade.

• Seek to significantly cut the cost of differences in regulation and standards by promoting greater compatibility, transparency, and cooperation.

• Enhance cooperation on the development of rules and principles on issues of global concern, including on market-based disciplines for State-Owned Enterprises, combating discriminatory localization barriers to trade, and promoting the global competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Ambassador Ronald Kirk heads USTR, which is “responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity, and direct investment policy, and overseeing negotiations with other countries.”

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Angela Merkel’s ‘Wild Boys’

“Seasoned German foreign policy experts, such as the head of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee, Ruprecht Polenz, are beginning to worry about Chancellor Angela Merkel's ”wild boys,” reports the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (German Wave) on its an online news site.

"If there are differences in opinion, successful diplomacy consists of not making them worse by using a rough tone”, Polenz told the Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger daily, according to Deutsche Welle.

The publication said, Mr. Polenz “was first and foremost referring to the German foreign, defense  and environment ministers, all relatively young and seemingly unruly cabinet members who've chosen to fire some broadsides at the US administration in recent days and weeks.”

If you wan to read more, please see “Berlin cabinet ministers ruffle US feathers.”

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Britain's U.S. Ambassador's Assessment of Barack Obama

"Sir Nigel Sheinwald, [the British] ambassador in Washington since last year, delivered his unvarnished assessment of the White House front runner in a seven-page letter to the Prime Minister, obtained by The Daily Telegraph  [of London], just before the Democratic nominee's visit to Downing Street just over two months ago," writes Toby Harnden, The Daily Telegraph's Washington correspondent in an October 3, 2008 post at telegraph.co.uk. See "Exclusive: Barack Obama is 'aloof' says British ambassador to US."

Mr. Harnden said, "The candid letter, marked as containing "sensitive judgements" and requesting officials to "protect the contents carefully" gives a remarkable insight into how the Foreign Office views the political phenomenon who stunned Mr Brown's inner circle by defeating their favourite, Hillary Clinton, in the Democratic primaries."

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Should Europe Fear a McCain Presidency?

"It may seem incredible to say this, given past experience, but a few years from now Europe and the world could be looking back at the Bush administration with nostalgia," writes British author Anatol Lieven, "a professor at King’s College, Cambridge, and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation," in the March 24, 2008, edition of FT.com (The Financial Times) "This possibility will arise if the US elects Senator John McCain as president in November."

The author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism notes that, "Over the years the US has inserted itself into potential flashpoints in different parts of the world. The Republican party is now about to put forward a natural incendiary as the man to deal with those flashpoints," Mr. Lieven contends.

If you care to read more, see "Why we should fear a McCain presidency."

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Will Gordon Brown Be Bush's Poodle No. 2?

Columnist John O'Sullivan,  a senior fellow of the Washington, D.C, USA-based Hudson Institute, says the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom will survived despite the fact that Prime Minister James Gordon Brown won't be joined at the hip with U.SA President George W. Bush the way his predecessor, Mr. Anthony Blair, seemed to be. In fact, Mr. Blair was often called Bush's poodle. See "Special relationship will survive - as before" for Mr. O'Sullivan's perspective.

According to Times Online correspondents Sarah Baxter and David Cracknell , Mr. Brown "will fly to Washington this month to ease tensions with the Bush administration, which has been “severely irritated” by suggestions that he intends to distance British foreign policy from America." 

Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development, set off speculation during a July 12, 2007, address at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC, the U.S. capital. See his speech titled "The Role of International Development in a Changing World: The Perspective from Britain."

As the BBC noted July 14, 2007, "There was another instance of the distancing on Saturday when a new foreign office minister Mark Malloch Brown, a critic of US policy when he was at the UN, said that the US and UK would no longer be "joined at the hip". See an analysis by Paul Reynolds, World Affairs correspondent BBC News website, headlined "The subtle shift in British foreign policy.

David Miliband, Britain's foreign secretary since July 28, 2007, takes the position that the U.S. and Britain"...are stronger together than apart. Our shared values give us real strength." See "Miliband defends UK-US relations."

Does that mean that Britain would side with the U.S. against the European Union (EU)  in the event of a diplomatic crisis between the EU and the U.S.? Just asking.

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