Pittsburgh / Brussels (dpa) – The EU wants to seek closer transatlantic economic cooperation in spite of the severe disappointment with the latest US actions on security issues.
Representatives of the EU and the USA came on Wednesday in the US city of Pittsburgh for the first meeting of a new European-American trade and technology council. The meeting is intended to be the starting signal for better cooperation. According to information from the EU Council of Ministers, all 27 member states agreed to a declaration on the meeting – in the meantime it was unclear whether the meeting and later the declaration would take place at all.
The background to this is the European horror that Washington has been negotiating a new security pact for the Indo-Pacific region with the UK and Australia behind the back of the EU in recent months. In particular, the government in Paris is furious because the alliance called Aukus broke a 56 billion euro submarine contract between Australia and France. Given the anger, France questioned whether the Pittsburgh meeting should take place at all. The state only approved the text for the final declaration on Wednesday after making corrections. In addition, France forced to change a positively worded sentence on mutual dependencies in the production of semiconductors. It wanted to make it clear that after the recent breach of trust, the EU should strive for significantly greater independence from its partner on the other side of the Atlantic Intelligence as one of the main topics on the agenda of the meeting. According to the text for the final declaration, the delivery bottlenecks are to be eliminated through closer cooperation, among other things. Specifically, it is also about reducing the current dependency on products from Asia and especially from China. The shortage of semiconductors has recently led, among other things, to numerous car manufacturers not being able to produce as desired.
The Trade and Technology Council was at an EU-US summit in June by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the US President Joe Biden – also to leave behind conflicts that arose during the term of office of Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. There are plans, for example, to work more closely on technology standards and securing supply chains, as well as more closely coordinated action against unfair trade practices by countries such as China. After the kick-off meeting in Pittsburgh, ten working groups are to set up concrete plans on these and other topics in the coming months.
The US market is still open for companies from Germany and many other EU countries always one of the most important in the world. German business representatives therefore appealed to those involved to make the talks a success. “For German companies, the reduction of trade disputes, the prevention of new conflicts and a positive transatlantic trade agenda are of great importance,” warned the President of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peter Adrian.
German trade associations offer support to
The Association of German Mechanical and Plant Engineering said that the Trade and Technology Council represented a “historic opportunity” to finally tackle important issues in transatlantic economic relations together again. This also includes the abolition of the US steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by Biden’s predecessor Trump and the restoration of a functioning dispute settlement mechanism at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The President of the Association of the Automotive Industry, Hildegard Müller, demanded the USA also to fairness. “Current proposals that would only allow the promotion of electric mobility for vehicles manufactured in the USA contradict the spirit of free trade and hinder the ramp-up of this important future technology,” she commented. BDI President Siegfried Russwurm spoke out in favor of integrating German business into the work of the Council. Four central associations stand ready to make their contribution to strengthening transatlantic economic relations.
For the United States, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, Trade Minister Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai attended the meeting. Vice Commission President Margrethe Vestager and her colleague Valdis Dombrovskis traveled to the USA for the EU. Both had recently promoted the talks intensively with the 27 EU member states. Strategic alliances are about developing joint approaches and also overcoming difficulties, they explained after the decision to reject the French request to postpone the meeting. At the same time, Dombrovskis admitted that after the disappointment with the handling of the new Aukus alliance, there was now some repair work to be done.