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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 30, 2007
Press Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on the U.S.-EU Summit
Via Conference Call
4:15 P.M. EDT
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi. I'd like to just cover three topics that were discussed by the leaders and on which there's been a lot of work leading up to the summit.
The first one is the framework for advancing transatlantic economic integration. The three leaders -- President Barroso, Chancellor Merkel and President Bush -- signed this today, and they spent a significant portion of their time together this morning discussing the importance of this agreement and the path that it really lays out for finding ways to reduce barriers to transatlantic economic trade and investment.
The agreement that was signed has three components of it that are worth mentioning. The first is a regulatory focus on finding ways to converge our different regulatory structure and our regulatory approaches when possible, and also reduce and streamline regulations when possible. As we've interacted with the business communities on both sides of the Atlantic, a consistent set of feedback that we've received is that the very different regulatory frameworks pose real barriers to economic advancement and growth in both economies.
So there's a regulatory focus, in terms of determining how to best develop regulations in the future, and also how to reduce the regulatory burden in key areas for sectoral cooperation. These areas include food safety and cosmetics, medical devices, automotive safety, chemicals and others.
Another part of the economic agreement, or the transatlantic economic integration agreement, is a set of priority projects focused on intellectual property rights and secure trade, financial markets, consolidation, investment promotion and innovation and technology. The Europeans often refer to these at lighthouse projects, and the Chancellor specifically spent some time thinking and talking about how important these projects are for the transatlantic economic relationship.
And then, finally, the agreement includes a transatlantic economic council, which is chaired by Al Hubbard on the U.S. side, and Vice President Verheugen, on the European side. And this group will convene key ministerial level members from both sides, as well as key constituents into a common dialogue that will assess the progress and focus of this transatlantic effort.
So there was a good bit of time focused on this agreement and all three leaders really highlighted what an important path this laid out for our future economic activity and advancement. They all noted that the agreement is an ambitious one and the important next step now is getting past the words and really executing on what are a very important set of priorities.
The second topic that the leaders spoke about -- and probably spent the most amount of time in their discussion on this topic -- is the Doha round. And they made it very clear that this transatlantic economic agreement, which focuses on those specific projects and on the regulatory environment is a very different set of activities than the multilateral trade round.
President Bush emphasized the importance he places on that, the importance that it has for the U.S. economy and the European economy, but also for the developing world. And Ambassador Schwab and Commissioner Mandelson were in the room, and there was a good bit of discussion on the progress that's been made, and on the focused next steps that the EU, the United States, and all critical parties need to take in the coming weeks and months to bring Doha to a successful conclusion. And there was a real uniform expression of commitment and goodwill to try to find a path ahead that would satisfy all those involved. So that was the second important area of discussion.
And then third was the energy security, energy efficiency, and climate change discussion. President Bush introduced this topic. They spent, the three leaders, a good bit of time talking about this. I think what was most notable out of that conversation is how much commonality there is around key principles that the leaders have, the emphasis they place on addressing these combined issues of energy security, climate change, and continued economic growth. There was a great deal of emphasis on the importance of technology in addressing that critical agenda. There was a great deal of emphasis placed on the importance of bringing the emerging economies into this discussion in the role that the EU and the United States could play in that. And there was also a discussion around the very different, in some ways, and in some ways similar activities that the various countries have taken.
So President Bush spent a good bit of time emphasizing what he has recently done in the transportation sector in terms of mandatory restrictions on -- or mandatory increases in CAFE standards and the mix of biofuels in our fuel supply. And there was a good bit of discussion around some of the recent steps taken by the European Union, as well as the joint efforts, and the U.S. effort in particular, around technology investment.
Much of this common ground was captured in a summit declaration around energy security, efficiency and climate change. And in that statement, there's a number of common priorities laid out, several that I'll highlight, is the emphasis that the leaders placed on the deployment of clean coal technology and carbon capture and storage technologies. This is an area where we and the European Union agree there needs to be a great deal of emphasis, in not only developing the technology but deploying it around the world.
A second area that is highlighted in the summit declaration is energy efficiency, especially in the transportation sector and in the building sector. A third area that there's a good bit of combined focus and clarity is around the research, development and deployment around biofuels, and developing a common set of standards. The President, as you all know, has a particular interest in that, and he spent a good bit of time during this morning's session talking about biofuels and the U.S. efforts to develop the next generation of technology in that area.
And then, finally, a fourth area of common focus is the methane recovery and use projects, where we and the European Union have a very cooperative effort underway, and we're looking for ways to further enhance that effort.
So those are the three topics. Those took up probably the majority of the sessions this morning, although there were certainly a number of other important political issues raised. So why don't I turn to my colleague and let her talk about those.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I just want to briefly talk about the political and security issues that were raised today. And I would say that most of the lunch discussion focused on these issues, although one of them was touched on in the earlier session. You will see when these documents are put up on the website later today that there is a statement on promoting peace, human rights and democracy worldwide, and it is a statement that really represents the breadth of the relationship we have with the EU in addressing a number of global challenges.
Let me just highlight a couple of the issues that the leaders talked about. First was Kosovo and the need to quickly come to resolution on the final status for Kosovo, based on Special Envoy Ahtisaari's plan. They discussed Iran and the need to make sure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapons capability; discussed Darfur, the importance of ending the violence there; our joint efforts in Afghanistan; reinvigorating the Middle East peace process, which the EU has become even more involved in with the reinvigoration of the Quartet process since Chancellor Merkel took over as EU President.
They discussed Latin America. The President talked a little bit about his trip to Latin America and the importance of working together on human rights and basic freedoms in Cuba. And there was also a discussion of the President's malaria initiative and the need to really address this problem.
I think I will stop there and, Kate, maybe turn it over to questions, if that's okay.
MS. STARR: Yes, fine, time for questions.
Q I'd just like to ask, on the economic integration agreement, what's the relationship between that agreement and what the SEC has been doing for the last few days? I think last week they announced that they were working with their European counterparts on some somewhat similar sounding kinds of initiatives to reach a single standard for accounting for public companies.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, that -- they are very much integrated. So as I mentioned, there are these specific lighthouse projects that have been identified by the Europeans, the Germans, and us. And one of those is focused specifically on financial markets. And so the whole effort here around identifying and agreeing upon common accounting standards is one of the area's focus.
Q And is that something that the SEC has been involved with?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Very much. Yes. It's something that I think Chris Cox has been involved in taking a leadership role in.
Q Hi there. First quick question is just, I want to ask, if we can, why this briefing needs to be on background? Is there any way we can just put this on the record?
MS. STARR: Yes, standard practice, I think, after meetings of this sort is to just to background on the meeting. And also you've got the President a little bit on the record today. So we'll keep it on background, but appreciate your question; noted.
Q My other question is basically, the leaders today were talking about progress on climate change, but when I listened to the President discuss the issue, it's the same thing he's said over and over and over again, and I didn't really hear anything that was different. What actually constitutes progress on this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I guess a couple of things. If you even went back a couple of years ago, even two years ago, I think the discussion around climate change would have been the discussion in isolation of energy security, as well as economic growth. And what was I think notable today in the comments that President Barroso made, as well as Chancellor Merkel, was the emphasis that they both placed in all three, and the common ground that I think they have with the President in terms of the need to address all three holistically.
The second area that they spent a lot of time talking about and just really brainstorming around was how to engage together in a way that would make bringing the emerging economies into this discussion in a constructive way possible. And so there's now discussions about how to do that and how to do that effectively.
Then the third is the area of technology collaboration and cooperation, and the focus that the Europeans -- the Germans, in particular -- and we are placing on that. So this is not to suggest that there's uniform agreement on all aspects of climate policy. But on those foundation points, there is, and that's what they spent the bulk of their time talking about. And the President said this is a conversation that will continue at the G8 and in other forums, and he talks about it with them regularly.
Q It's Olivier, but, close enough. I have one question for each of you, I think. The first one, you said they discussed Kosovo. I'm wondering whether the President reached out to the leaders, the leaders (inaudible) with the President, now that Mr. Holbrooke says that he thinks several EU states would follow the United States in unilaterally recognizing Kosovo.
And on the economic side of things, Chancellor Merkel says it's an enormous step forward that there's now agreement that we need a proper agenda for the Indonesian talks on climate change. What's a proper agenda?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the agenda is still very much under discussion. But I think the fact that they all agree on the principles that I laid out before are important parts of the agenda. So the need for common action, the need for the right participants, the need for a focus on technology, a need for different approaches at the national level to fulfill a broader global objective. This was what came out of the discussion a bit, was the acknowledgment, I think, that the United States and Germany and the EU more broadly are all taking different approaches to a very common and significant global objective.
So there's a lot of common ground there. I think where there's not been common ground is around the wisdom and effectiveness of a global cap and trade system for fulfilling those objectives. And so there, frankly, wasn't a discussion about that today, but that's been an area where there's not been agreement. But there's certainly more areas of agreement than disagreement at this point.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me just address the question on Kosovo. The discussion on Kosovo -- and you'll see some of this in the statement that they put out -- was on trying to get a U.N. Security Council resolution on Kosovo. They noted the fact that the Security Council has just taken a trip to Kosovo and Serbia. This was at the request of the Russians. That trip just got back over the weekend. There will be a report sometime this week, and hopefully based on that report we'll be able to move forward in a cooperative way and actually get a Security Council resolution. That's a far preferable way to move forward on that issue. And that was what the discussion focused on.
Q But just to be clear, they did not discuss the possibility of recognizing Kosovo outside that context?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: They really -- their discussion really focused on getting some type of a Security Council resolution. Obviously, there are options outside of that, if that's not possible, but the focus is really on trying to work together through the Security Council at this point to try to get something done.
Q Hi there. Can you tell us any more about the high-level forum on climate change that Mr. Barroso mentioned in the press conference? He also mentioned a conference on renewable energy. I wondered if you could tell us more about who would be involved in the forum and then in the conference. Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You know, the high-level forum has been something that has -- was established last year and has become the mechanism by which we have, from the United States, interacted with the European Union on this particular topic. Those dialogues have happened on a fairly regular basis, and that was actually the group that created the statement that we announced today. That group was comprised of a combination of people from the climate side, or the environment ministers, as well as the energy ministers, as well as the economic team.
And one of the key arguments that we've historically made, and that the Europeans have to some degree adopted, is that, again, these topics need to be considered together. And therefore, the people that should be talking about them and considering them are representing all those different aspects of policy.
I'm not actually -- I heard his comment and haven't had a chance to follow up on the second part of your question. I'm not exactly sure of the conference he was referring to. But we can certainly track that down.
Q In the Open Skies agreement, there was some concern that this was going to allow greater foreign control of U.S. airlines. Are there any protections to prevent that from happening?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: In terms of what happened on the Open Skies, there were no changes in terms of control of the business, U.S. companies. That would have required a role change, and/or legislation -- neither of those have happened. This is really about access to the markets, in terms of flights from the U.S. to Europe and from Europe to the U.S. Issues of ownership will be dealt with in a second stage negotiation that won't start until 2008.
Q So will the -- when did the, sort of, Open Skies -- I mean, is this just sort of a first step in getting to a broader agreement, or --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the Open Skies refers to access to the routes, and access to the various slots at airports throughout Europe and the United States. The ownership issues --
Q I guess my question is when does that open access begin?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: March.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: March of 2008, by the terms of the agreement.
Q Hi. I'm wondering if you can explain what's next in terms of the U.N. international negotiations, in terms of climate change. In the discussions here, Ms. Merkel talked about a strong step forward toward Bali and the agenda that she wants to get there. Was there any agreement on what the United States is going to bring to the Bali meeting in December?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: There was not any detailed discussion of the specifics of that agenda. I think that that is certainly one of the topics that Chancellor Merkel has outlined as something that she'd like to discuss at the G8. And so this is a discussion that's going to take -- continue to take place in the months ahead. The G8 will be an opportunity where the leaders will talk about these issues again.
And that's an interesting forum because you have Japan, who has just recently -- Prime Minister Abe was here last week, and there was a statement on energy security and climate with Prime Minister Abe and the President, and Japan is a member of the Asia Pacific Partnership, so there's a host of endeavors there, as well as Russia, Canada, and the United States, all of whom have common objectives, I think, but different approaches to achieving those objectives.
So the G8 will provide a forum to begin to try to reconcile those views, and I suspect one of the topics might be how those common views come together in a common agenda through the U.N. or other mechanisms for promoting a climate change, energy security and economic growth agenda.
Q Can I follow up with you? I got on the call a little bit late, so I, one, missed the ground rules in terms of background, and two, what is the administration's position in terms of the next phase after Kyoto expires in 2012? The negotiations will be going on for the next two years, and then there's talk that they'd like to firm those up once Bush leaves office in 2010, I believe it is.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We haven't stated an explicit administration position on what the post-2012 process or approach would be, or should be. The President has articulated a set of principles which I've mentioned, but I'll repeat them just real briefly, which is that he thinks that this is a global challenge that should be addressed by both the developed economies, as well as the emerging economies, and one that they should take on with great focus. He thinks that it should be discussed within the context of energy security, climate change and economic growth. You can't single out one of those; they need to be addressed holistically.
The discussion needs to include the emerging economies, who by any projection will be the primary driver in the foreseeable future of CO2 emissions, and that something that the Chancellor and President Barroso and the President highlighted yet again today, that ultimately technology is going to be the critical ingredient to trying to address this issue globally. And it's not just the development of that technology, but it's the deployment of it in a low-cost way around the world, so China and India and the rest of the emerging economies can actually utilize it.
So those will be the principles that we would place a great deal of emphasis on, but we haven't spoken specifically about what our policy or approach or posture would be to what might emerge after 2012.
MS. STARR: Okay, thank you, everyone. And there will be a transcript on this, so everyone knows, and it should be released fairly soon. Thank you.
END 4:37 P.M. EDT