It's time to renew the trans-Atlantic partnership

Posted in NATO , Other | 14-Apr-05 | Author: Miguel Angel Moratinos| Source: International Herald Tribune

President Clinton & European Union leaders in Madrid, Dec 3, 1995.
The benefits of cooperation

MADRID On Dec. 3, 1995, President Bill Clinton, Felipe González for the European Union and Jacques Santer for the European Commission signed the New Trans-Atlantic Agenda in Madrid. The agenda established four major goals that are still fully relevant 10 years later: promoting peace, stability, democracy and development around the world; responding to global challenges; contributing to world trade expansion and closer economic relations; and building bridges across the Atlantic.

It is true that the trans-Atlantic relationship has been under strain in the last few years because of strong disagreements on several issues, from the Kyoto Protocol to the International Criminal Court, and, of course, Iraq. It is also true that Europeans and Americans do not always share the same view on how to tackle risks and threats.

But the bond between Americans and Europeans is so strong that it can withstand all these strains and when the two of them are able to act together, the results are outstanding. Why is this so?

There is first a cultural and historic relationship. The American nation was formed to a great extent with European migrations. The strength of the bond was demonstrated twice last century, when thousands of Americans lost their lives to defend freedom in Europe. All this cannot be forgotten. That is why when the United States suffered the Sept. 11 attacks there was a strong feeling of solidarity throughout Europe.

A real trans-Atlantic marketplace exists already. Bilateral investments between Europe and the United States amount to more than €1.5 trillion, or $1.9 trillion. Trans-Atlantic trade of goods and services reached €595 billion in 2003. The trans-Atlantic partnership has been a key driving force of the multilateral trading system. Both sides should continue their efforts to eliminate outstanding barriers to trade and investment.

For Spain, which has suffered from the scourge of terrorism for almost 40 years and the most brutal terrorist attacks ever in Continental Europe, cooperation in this field with the United States is one of the main priorities of the trans-Atlantic agenda.

The EU and the United States have agreements on extradition and mutual legal assistance against crime, and cooperation between Europol and U.S. agencies is increasing. We are a key partner in the security net of Afghanistan and one of the top contributors in the reconstruction of Iraq.

A crucial goal of the trans-Atlantic partnership is to extend freedom and democracy throughout the world. The EU has made an outstanding contribution with its own enlargement and initiatives like the New Neighbor and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, also called the Barcelona Declaration. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the declaration, which opened the way to a partnership of 35 countries. It is a unique framework that aims to create an area of political stability and economic prosperity in the Mediterranean region.

The U.S. "Broader Middle East and North Africa" initiative is very valuable. It shares the same goals as the Barcelona Declaration, although the geographic scope is different. The EU and the United States should continue to explore the possible synergies between these two initiatives.

In the Middle East, close coordination between the EU and the United States is essential. Spain has been and is ready to remain instrumental in the quest for peace. We have the political stamina, the proximity and the commitment to play our part.

In Latin America we share the same objectives of supporting democracy and eliminating poverty.

Expanding trade, fighting terrorism, building democracies, working together to fight against poverty and disease - these are some of the main goals that a strong trans-Atlantic partnership must have. But it is also very important to strengthen public support. In the last few years, for various reasons, the views of the American and European publics have drifted apart. We need to show our citizens the importance of nurturing this trans-Atlantic understanding. If America is the indispensable nation, Europe is the irreplaceable partner.

A renewed trans-Atlantic agenda should include specific actions to encourage civil society - including business executives, scientists, journalists, academic institutions and students - to cooperate. Let's get to work.

(Miguel Angel Moratinos is Spain’s minister of foreign affairs.)