Schnabel hands EU book of condolence to House Speaker

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Series Details Vol.7, No.38, 18.10.01, p8
Publication Date 18/10/2001
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Date: 18/10/01

By Craig Winneker

AN ARRAY of headache-inducing transatlantic trade squabbles - from tax breaks for multinational corporations to beef import quotas - awaited him, but when the new US ambassador to the EU arrived in Brussels last week there was little discussion of them.

In the wake of the attacks on New York and Washington last month, Rockwell Schnabel, a Dutch-born venture capitalist, finds himself confronted with a world-wide war on terrorism that has significant implications even for his dossier. "This is a time of threats never imagined, but also of great opportunity to create a safer, more prosperous world for all people," Schnabel said last Friday. "As transatlantic partners, the US and the EU lead in fighting the scourge of terrorism." As President Bush's main mouthpiece in Europe, the new ambassador will be a key player in coordinating the efforts of Washington and Brussels to boost international security. He highlighted this role by welcoming "further development of the EU's common foreign and security policy, which will make Europe a more effective global partner for us".

He has also already shown a willingness to make important symbolic gestures. Just before leaving Washington, Schnabel presented to House Speaker Dennis Hastert a condolences book signed by all members of the European Parliament after the 11 September attacks.

The book had been given to Schnabel earlier by the EU's ambassador to the US, G√ľnter Burghardt. In handing it over to Hastert, Schnabel noted the "great outpouring of emotion and solidarity which swept across Europe" in the days following the attack. "But Europe did more than mourn," he said. "The European Union and all its institutions immediately went to work with us to make this world a safer place [and] put into motion crucial initiatives in such areas as law enforcement, data sharing, controls over financing of terrorist groups and aviation security."

Schnabel's nomination to the EU ambassador post was confirmed by the US Senate on 26 September.

Rockwell Schnabel is the new US Ambassador to the EU.

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