Eckart von Klaeden MP and Foreign Policy Spokesman of the CDU/CSU-Group in the German Bundestag, - Foundation Office United Kingdom and Ireland
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On January 1st our government will take over the presidency of two very important organizations: the G-8 and the European Union.
The latter – the one we are talking about today – has influenced the policy of its member states tremendously since it was founded in 1957 in Rome. After the European Coal and Steel Community the Treaties of Rome of 1957 were the first step towards the intensive political European integration we are having today. With the treaties the first six member states did not only found the European market but they created the basis for wealth, peace and freedom in Europe. Also due to them, today 25 (and soon 27) members of the European Union live in democratic societies, share all the basic values (like human dignity, intellectual freedom, human and civil liberties, the rule of law, democracy and solidarity).
Values, that we are also sharing with one of our most important allies: the US. For more than two centuries the US and Europe are tied by their close historical, political, economic and cultural relations. The transatlantic solidarity has been essential for the preservation of peace and freedom and for the development of free and prosperous economies as well as for the recent developments which have restored unity in Germany and Europe. Especially in times of rising international and regional conflicts, challenges like transnational terrorism and in the era of globalization this solidarity is of high importance for us Europeans. This is why our policy during the presidency must also embrace our transatlantic partner.
During the German EU-presidency we will have a particular occasion to strengthen our partnership with the USA: the EU-US summit of 2007 in Washington D.C. This annual summit, which is based on the Transatlantic Declaration on EU-US Relations of 1990, offers the entire EU and especially Germany during its presidency the possibility to set the agenda in transatlantic relations. Besides an intensive dialogue on foreign and security policy (NATO) we should use this opportunity and outline the importance of EU-US economic cooperation, because the EU and the US share the most intensive economic relations of the world. Together, the US and the EU account for nearly 60 % of the global national product and 70% of the worldwide portfolio investment account for the relations between EU and US. Trade has doubled since 1990 and accounts for one fifth of the total world trade. Also the transatlantic portfolio investment has been rising in the last years and more than 12 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic have been created by Foreign Direct Investment of one economy into the other.
Nevertheless, there are still opportunities to further increase our economic interrelationship. Especially in the field of non-tariff barriers our markets are still facing many obstacles. Especially regulatory measures and standards, in our capital markets and on the field of security effect the free flow of capital, goods and services. An OECD-study of 2005 arrived at the conclusion that the liberalization of the market and the abolition of the mentioned obstacles could lead to a growth of 3% in the transatlantic area. Classical trade barriers like customs and others, however, are very low. They affect only 3 – 4 % of the current annual transatlantic trade.
Already with the EU-US summit in 2004 in Ireland a consultation process on bilateral economic cooperation was initiated. In 2005 this was followed by the so called Transatlantic Market Initiative which contains cooperation in the fields of Promoting Regulatory and Standards Cooperation; Stimulating Open and Competitive Markets, Enhancing Trade, Travel and Security, Promoting Energy Efficiency, Intellectual Property Rights and Investment. However, until now there are only a few concrete and noticeable results of this initiative.
Consequently the German presidency has to concentrate its activities in the field of transatlantic economic cooperation on the abolition of non-tariff barriers ( especially: promoting regulatory, standards, capital markets, travel and security). Whether within or outside a new trade deal: a common regulatory framework would already be a big step into the right direction which maybe could one day be followed by the creation of a real “Transatlantic Marketplace”.