Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the United States and its European partners are more closely aligned on a wide range of global security and economic issues than ever before.
“What we have achieved in the last four years is a record we must keep building on because there are even more consequential and, in many ways, more difficult challenges that lie ahead,” Clinton said during a November 29 speech on U.S.-European relations at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based public policy research center.
Clinton said, during a wide-ranging discussion, that she will make her 38th trip to Europe in the coming week to meet with senior Czech officials in Prague to discuss energy independence and to promote human rights and democracy. She also plans to meet with NATO allies in Brussels to discuss a broad range of security issues.
The secretary also will meet with European Union officials in Brussels to discuss energy security. She then travels to Dublin to join colleagues from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to review progress in advancing security, democracy and human rights across Europe and Eurasia.
Clinton said the strength of U.S.-European relations over the last four years is reflected in cooperative efforts to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan, end the crisis in Libya, prevent Iran’s nuclear weapons development program and bolster joint strategic defenses.
The trans-Atlantic partnership, Clinton said, has reached a critical moment where decisions will have to be made about shared economic interests and how well they can thrive together in the coming years. “Perhaps the most important questions in the years ahead will be whether we invest as much energy into our economic relationship as we have put into our security relationship,” she said.
Clinton told the Brookings conference that a comprehensive U.S.-European Union trade agreement would improve prosperity and security on both sides of the Atlantic. “If we work at it, and if we get this right, an agreement that opens markets and liberalizes trade would shore up our global competitiveness for the next century, creating jobs and generating hundreds of billions of dollars for our economies,” she said.
She acknowledged that there is considerable work to do, including addressing long-standing barriers to trade and market access. U.S. trade with Europe totaled more than $485 billion in goods in the first nine months of 2012, and U.S. exports of goods to Europe through September totaled $200 billion, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
A trade working group led by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has been studying a trade proposal for the past year and are expected to make a formal recommendation to launch trade negotiations in a report to be released in December 2012 or January 2013, according to news reports.
But to strengthen economic ties between the United States and Europe requires both sides to build stronger economic foundations at home, Clinton said. For the United States, it means making tough choices, and investing in greater competitiveness to set a platform for stronger economic growth, she said. For Europe, Clinton encouraged European leaders to “move toward policies that promote credible and sustainable growth and create jobs.”