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Minister Rupel presents the EU-US Summit in the European Parliament

"Although relations between the European Union and the US are essentially bilateral in nature, the results of their work together have global effects. The Transatlantic Partnership has gone far beyond its economic dimensions. The EU and the US have cooperated closely, both bilaterally and within international organisations, on resolving outstanding issues, including the most pressing regional issues, such as Afghanistan, the Middle East, and the Western Balkans. As in all relationships, the EU and the US sometimes have different views with regard to certain issues, but we have been resolving them successfully with a constructive approach and mutual understanding." With these words the President of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel started his presentation of the EU-US Summit to be held next week in Slovenia.

The President of the Council stated that during its Presidency Slovenia has devoted particular attention to transatlantic structures. The Summit will be the most important event in this framework. A great deal of work has already been done with regard to the preparations. The Summit will be divided into four parts, namely the meeting of the heads of state, the plenary session, and lunch, which will then be followed by a press conference.

The heads of state will discuss the most topical regional issues, among which President Rupel mentioned the Middle East Peace Process, the Western Balkans, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Iran, while other regional issues will be discussed at the plenary session and during lunch. The talks will also touch upon other global issues, such as climate change, energy, the negotiations within the WTO, development, global health and security, and free trade and the free movement of people.

At the plenary session, the Summit will see the first presentation of the Progress Report of the Transatlantic Economic Council, which was established at the 2007 EU-US Summit in Washington and within which the European Parliament has played an important role as an advisory body in the Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue. The Progress Report of the Transatlantic Economic Council meeting (13 May in Brussels) will be presented by the Council co-chairs, the Assistant to the US President for International Economic Affairs Daniel Price, and the Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry and Vice President of the European Commission, Günter Verheugen.

"The document to be adopted at the Summit has been the subject of discussion between the EU and the US for several months. The declaration will encompass the entire scope of transatlantic cooperation. Among other matters, it will touch upon regional issues, global security, transatlantic economic partnership, and global challenges, including climate change and energy. The EU Presidency’s objective is to prepare a brief and concise document with a firm political message, and I believe we are doing well," added GAERC Council President Rupel, who then went on to indicate some important topics. He said that a compromise solution had been reached within the chapter on climate change, where divergent positions were present. The proposed short and meaningful text on climate change preserves the most important objectives of the EU and at the same time takes into account the US positions.

The GAERC Council President went on to say that in addition to the preparations for the Summit, the Presidency has been endeavouring to establish the date for the signing of the Air Traffic Safety Agreement, as its harmonisation is now in the final stage. The Presidency furthermore supports early establishment of the "open skies", which will represent further liberalization of transatlantic air traffic and a new stage in EU-US relations, benefiting the people on both sides of the Atlantic.

"The Slovenian Presidency is aware of the fact that some EU Member States have still not been included in the Visa Waiver Programme, which facilitates visa-free travel to the US. This topic has also been given considerable attention in all contacts with the US, as well as in the preparations for the Summit. We hope that substantial progress can be achieved by the end of this year," remarked President Rupel.


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Date: 06.06.2008