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."
"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.