EPRSauthor By / March 24, 2014

EU-US Relations Today – Still Good Friends?

US President Barack Obama is this week in Brussels, reason enough for us to focus on transatlantic relations this week….

© freshidea / Fotolia

US President Barack Obama is this week in Brussels, reason enough for us to focus on transatlantic relations this week. It will be his first ever visit to the EU institutions. He will attend the EU-US summit on 26th March, together with Commission President Barroso, and European Council President Van Rompuy.

An item high on the summit agenda will be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated. Controversial issues, such as agriculture, consumer protection and food safety, NSA and European citizens’ privacy will set the tone for the negotiations.

Following up on the TTIP negotiations, the European Parliament’s Committee for International Trade (INTA) asked our Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit to provide a detailed appraisal of the Commission’s Impact Assessment, with particular emphasis on the methodologies and economic modelling used. This appraisal, drafted by external experts, will be published at the beginning of April 2014. In the meantime, our Ex-Ante Impact Assessment Unit provides you with an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission Impact Assessment (IA) (SWD (2013) 68).

The EU and the US are major partners in the trade of goods, services and investments. Our Statistical Spotlight provides you with detailed figures on trade flows, whereas a briefing sheds some light on solved and unresolved issues between the two biggest economies in the world.

EU-US Relations Today - Still Good Friends?
© freshidea / Fotolia

Data protection and privacy are amongst the most contentious subjects to be dealt with. Last year NSA actions in Europe led to great concern regarding EU citizens’ fundamental rights. Data exchange also needs to be harmonized in industrial and commercial activities; companies who signed the EU-US Safe Harbour Agreement already comply with the EU data protection directive, but harmonisation across areas of activity is still to be agreed.

While in Brussels, Obama will also meet NATO Secretary General, Fogh Rasmussen and discuss the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and the end of the international NATO-led ISAF mission this year. A new bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and the United States was also expected to be signed, but last week (15 March) Afghan President Karzai said he would not sign the agreement. This declaration is in conflict with statements by Afghanistan’s UN ambassador Zahir Tanin, and with the declarations of the 10 candidates seeking presidency, who said they would sign the security agreement. Only after the Afghan Presidential elections, on April 5th, will the picture be clearer.

Prior to his Brussels stint, Obama will attend the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague (24-25 March), gathering 53 countries and 4 international organisations to assess the developments made in nuclear security. This “Obama-initiative” from 2010 aims to create security measures for nuclear material and thus to prevent nuclear terrorism; this year’s summit will focus on the results achieved and future challenges for nuclear security.

To know more on US Foreign Affairs, and the implications for the European Union, check out our briefing on United States-China relationship, and our Keysource on US Congress and US Foreign Policy.

For Members and EP staff only, we also hold subscriptions to academic full-text e-journals, with The journal of transatlantic studies being the most prominent. Our information specialists monitor what think tanks and research institutes say and share the most interesting papers on our Policy Area Page on Transatlantic relations. Freshly picked from there:

To stay informed of EU-US relation developments, MEP’s offices and EP staff can subscribe to e-mail alerts on the TTIP or more generally on transatlantic relations to get both our in-house analysis and hand-picked external info sources delivered direct to their inbox.

Finally, we have a collection of books focusing on Transatlantic issues. These books are available in the Library collection: [intranet access only]. Here are some examples:

  • Das politische System der USA : eine Einführung / Hübner, Emil , Münch, Ursula, 1961- , München: C.H. Beck, 2013, EP Library – Brussels / S 04.08.88 US HUB 13
  • Economic politics in the United States : the costs and risks of democracy / Keech, William R. , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013
  • Act of Congress : how America’s essential institution works, and how it doesn’t / Kaiser, Robert G., 1943- , New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013

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