Extra focus on US ties after Powell visit

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Series Details Vol.7, No.9, 1.3.01, p2
Publication Date 01/03/2001
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Date: 01/03/01

By Simon Taylor

EU President Romano Prodi and external relations chief Chris Patten pledged to increase the effectiveness of EU-US summits following this week's visit to Brussels by new US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Powell's declaration that he will play a "very, very active role" in fostering the relationship brought an immediate response from the Union executive. Officials said it will identify specific policy priorities at the biannual EU-US meetings and ensure they are followed by concrete initiatives.

"There has been enormous broadening [of the relationship] but we have not always managed to solve some issues sufficiently well and in good time," said Gunnar Wiegand, spokesman for Patten.

"We want to see how we can better manage key issues and ensure that they are properly addressed," he said. "There has been too much stocktaking."

Patten will unveil a paper in the next few weeks in which he is expected to outline areas where the EU and the US share common goals and where political backing at the heads of state or government level would ensure a successful follow-up of specific policy initiatives.

Wiegand said one of the achievements of the Clinton administration had been a shifting of the transatlantic relationship away from trade disputes but that the agenda of the twice-yearly meetings had become too cluttered to make real progress.

The spokesman added that the new George W. Bush team in the White House shares the Commission's concerns. "We were encouraged to hear similar thinking from this administration," Wiegand said.

At the meeting this week Prodi, Powell and Patten emphasised their desire to improve EU-US cooperation in the Middle East, in particular by convening an emergency donors' meeting to support the Palestinian authority. Powell also pledged to maintain a US role in providing stability and security in the Balkans.

During an earlier meeting with NATO foreign ministers, Powell expressed his support for the EU's efforts to take on a bigger military role and urged member states to ensure that they had the necessary military hardware.

EU President, Romano Prodi, and external relations chief, Chris Patten, pledged to increase the effectiveness of EU-US summits following a visit to Brussels by new US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.

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