Roundtables

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Meeting with the Subcommittee on Europe of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

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This special meeting with Cong. Robert Wexler, Chairman of the Europe Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Members of the Subcommittee, including Congressmen Elton Gallegly (R-CA), Ranking Member; John S. Tanner (D-TN) and Albio Sires (D-NJ), was an occasion for members of The European Institute, including the Ambassadors of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Slovakia, Sweden, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, to learn more about the Subcommittee’s agenda and potential hearing schedule, as well as to exchange views with the Subcommittee members. The meeting was chaired by Jacqueline Grapin, The European Institute’s Founder and Chairman of the Board. Issues addressed included the Visa Waiver program, Turkey’s accession to the EU, container screening and trade security and improving U.S.-EU relations.

 
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Transatlantic Cooperation on Supply Chain Security

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The Hon. László Kovács, Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, and Robert Verrue, Director General for Taxation and Customs Union at the European Commission, reviewed current initiatives in supply chain security, the effects on international trade and the prospects for transatlantic cooperation. The bill proposed by the U.S. Congress requiring the scanning of 100% of containers entering U.S. ports became the focus of the discussion. Referring to the technical difficulty of this task, its negative impact on commerce, as well as on transatlantic relations, participants concurred that 100% scanning was neither practical nor cost-efficient given the available technology and the volume of shipments to the U.S. Commissioner Kovacs concluded that mutual recognition and bilateral cooperation is needed in addressing these critical security issues. The involvement of the private sector was also a key to developing a sound container security agreement. Participants included Mandy Bowers, Professional Staff Member, Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. House of Representatives; and Peter Verga, Principal Deputy, Homeland Defense, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the U.S. Department of Defense, who offered the U.S. perspective. Evelyn Suarez, a partner at the law firm of Williams Mullen moderated the meeting.

 
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Ambitions and Limitations of the German Presidency of the European Union

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His Excellency Klaus Scharioth, Ambassador of Germany to the United States, outlined the priorities of the German Presidency of the European Union, which runs  January-June, 2007. He address a number of areas the Presidency will tackle, including the EU Constitution and enlargement, climate change, instability in the Middle East and global trade challenges such as intellectual property rights protections. He emphasized the need for a more cohesive transatlantic strategy on these and other global concerns and noted that transatlantic partnerships are vital to the success of the Presidency’s goals on these issues.

 
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The European Defence Agency’s Goals: Strengthening Europe’s Capabilities and Defence Industrial Base

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Nick Witney, Chief Executive of the European Defense Agency addressed European defense capabilities and the transatlantic cooperation needed in order to meet the emerging requirements of the European Security and Defense Policy. The meeting was moderated by Ambassador Robert Hunter, Senior Advisor of RAND.