Friday, March 6, 2009

MEPs are suggesting the creation of a Transatlantic Policy Council

European Parliament 25.02.2009.

A new transatlantic partnership is needed to strengthen ties between the EU and America now that Barack Obama has taken office, says the EP Foreign Affairs Committee. MEPs are calling for a new institutional architecture including a political council and a joint parliamentary committee.
The "new transatlantic agenda" dating from 1995 should be replaced by a new transatlantic partnership agreement based on a new institutional architecture, argues the report by Francisco José Millán Mon (EPP-ED, ES) adopted by the committee on Tuesday. The EU-US relationship is described in the report as "the most important strategic partnership" for the EU.

MEPs propose the creation of a Transatlantic Political Council as "a body for systematic high-level consultation and coordination in respect of foreign and security policy". It would be chaired by the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission on the EU side and by the Secretary of State on the US side, and would meet at least every three months.

A unified transatlantic market: meet the target date of 2015

The full potential of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) should be used o overcome the existing obstacles to economic integration and to achieve a unified transatlantic market by 2015. MEPs ask the European Commission, on the basis of the study authorised and financed by the European Parliament in its 2007 Budget, to draw up a detailed road map of existing obstacles which need to be removed with the aim of achieving that target date.

They highlight the role to be played by the TEC in transatlantic macro-economic cooperation and they call for closer coordination between European and American monetary institutions.

An EP-US Congress parliamentary committee

A joint parliamentary committee should replace the current Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue, says the report. It should be compromised of Members of the European Parliament and the US Congress, and should meet twice yearly.

The joint parliamentary committee should be able to make proposals to the Economic and Political Councils and to the EU-US summits. Both its co-chairs should be invited to participate in the opening session of meetings of both Councils. The committee should also have the right to conduct hearings with representatives of those Councils.

The report also recommends that EU-US summits take place twice a year "to provide the partnership with strategic direction and impetus".

CIA secret prisons, global issues

The U.S. administration is urged to close down any detention centres outside the United States, to put an end to the policy of extraordinary renditions and to ratify and accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

MEPs believe the new partnership should also enable the two sides to address, with Russia, the various challenges, threats and opportunities of mutual concern, such as disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation,

Lastly, it should permit better coordination of responses on other matters of joint interest such as promoting sustainable peace in the Middle East through the Quartet, the fight against terrorism and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, notably in Africa.

Procedure: Own-initiative -- Committee vote: 43 for, 1 against, 1 abstention -- Plenary vote: March II (Strasbourg)

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