This Day On The Street
Continue to site
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here

EU-US Summit: Transatlantic Trade, Russia Sanctions Top Agenda

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Reducing Europe's dependence on Russian gas is one of the aims of a free-trade accord discussed at today's EU-US summit in Brussels, President Barack Obama's first visit to the EU capital.

He met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU President Herman Van Rompuy to discuss ways to strengthen transatlantic ties - economically, politically, and even militarily - as tensions remain high over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

"Events in Ukraine and elsewhere go to show that there are many unsettling uncertainties, and that's why the solid certainty of the transatlantic relationship is so crucial," Van Rompuy told journalists after the summit, which lasted just over an hour. "It is the bedrock to face these challenges, a bond of friendship tested by history, and that bond is shock-proof. Cooperation among our countries is unrivaled."

President Obama, who attended the summit after paying tribute to American World War I veterans in Flanders, north of Brussels, underscored that Europe and the 28-nation EU is the "cornerstone of America's engagement around the globe."

Must Read: Obama: Women Still Face Outdated Policies at Work

"We are more secure and we are more prosperous, the world is safer, and more just," he said, "when Europe and America stand as one."

The two sides recently launched talks on a free-trade treaty the EU says can boost its economy by 119 billion Euros ($164.2 billion) a year and that of the United States by 95 billion Euros a year.

Besides slashing tariffs for all sectors, the aim is to tackle barriers at the customs border -- like differences in technical regulations, standards and approval procedures - to make it easier for companies big and small to export in either direction. Currently, when a car is approved as safe in the EU, it still has to go through a new approval procedure in the U.S. under similar safety standards.

A free trade pact is expected to boost EU car exports to Europe by as much as 149%, boosted by the already strong two-way trade in parts and components. That could give an added boost to Germany's Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, already among the top-selling foreign brands in the U.S.

As for other industrial sectors, the EU predicts a 12% rise in metal exports to the U.S. post-treaty, 9% in processed foods and in chemicals, 6% in other manufactured goods and 6% in transportation equipment unrelated to cars.

On Wednesday, both sides gave reassurances that they won't push for a pact at the price of sacrificing environmental standards or consumer protections.

"I have fought my entire political career and as president to strengthen consumer protections," Obama said. "I have no intention of signing legislation that would weaken those protections." Nor does the Commission's negotiating mandate on behalf of the EU's 28 member states allow for any kind of weakening of standards, said Commission President Barroso.

Freer trade is also seen as a way to reduce Europe's dependence on natural gas from Russia, all the more urgent in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.

Obama said freer trade should make it easier for the U.S. to export liquefied natural gas to Europe, "something that's obviously relevant in today's geopolitical climate." Already, the U.S. has authorized the export of as much natural gas as Europe uses every day, he said. He also urged Europe to look for other sources of energy, cautioning that, "just as there's no easy, free simple way to defend ourselves, there's no perfect, free, ideal, cheap energy sources."

At the same time, the EU and the US to stand shoulder to shoulder against Russia's actions in Ukraine, and waved the threat of additional sanctions if the situation escalates.

"If Russia continues on its current course," Obama said, "the isolation will deepen. Sanctions will increase and there will be growing consequences for the Russian economy.....This reflects the enduring commitment to the goal that has brought Europe and the United States together for decades - a Europe that is whole and free and at peace."

EU President Van Rompuy emphasized that sanctions should not be an end in itself, underscoring the need to stabilize the situation politically, economically and financially, "because that is the best answer."

President Obama had a packed 24 hours in Brussels, meeting briefly with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and ending the day with an evening speech to students in central Brussels before jetting to Rome to meet with Pope Francis.

-- Written by Renee Cordes in Brussels.

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Only $9.95
14-Days Free
Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
TSLA $279.67 -0.12%
YHOO $38.62 -1.90%
AAPL $126.16 -0.22%
FB $87.60 0.36%
GOOG $522.84 -0.11%

Markets

DOW 17,683.58 -46.53 -0.26%
S&P 500 2,068.76 -8.02 -0.39%
NASDAQ 4,991.94 -17.2740 -0.34%

Free Reports

Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs