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Ambassador O’Sullivan Reflects on the EU-U.S. Partnership

We may be in the midst of summer, but don’t expect the “gone fishing” sign to be put up anytime soon when it comes to EU-US relations.

Last week in Warsaw, President Barack Obama met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk. They were joined by Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart, High Representative Federica Mogherini.

At times, high-level heads of state meetings will be limited to an exchange of pleasantries and a quick hand-shake photo op. But in a true testament to the close EU-US working relationship, this was far more of a “let’s roll up our sleeves and get down to business” meeting.

Of course, we talked about the UK referendum and the way forward. President Obama reminded us that “an integrated Europe is one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times, and this is an achievement that has to be preserved.”

We discussed how we can better share information and fight terrorism together. We will continue to squeeze ISIL in Syria and Iraq while providing critical assistance to the millions of refugees. President Obama commended the EU’s financial assistance to Iraq and noted how we, once again, take the lead in mobilizing international assistance for development in Afghanistan.

We agreed on the need for continued EU-US support for Ukraine and their reform efforts. And we reaffirmed our commitment to maintaining our sanctions against Russia until they fully adhere to the Minsk agreements.

Recognizing in the words of President Obama how deeply woven together our economies are with the largest trade and investment relationship in the world, we talked about creating more jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic. One clear conclusion: We need TTIP. Our negotiators are meeting in Brussels this week for round 14 and we are seeing comprehensive progress. And with the launch of the EU-US Privacy Shield this week with new rules on transatlantic data sharing we have already secured a win-win for consumers and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

We also touched upon the European Union’s continued work to enhance our energy security and the need to ratify the Paris agreement as we continue what is increasingly becoming a joint fight against climate change.

As I listened to our leaders, I was struck by the depth and breadth of the discussion. Permeating the EU-US relationship is a strong sense of common values — democracy, freedom and human rights. It is clear we have a shared history, and history has brought us to a point in time where we share many common goals.

In 1963, John F. Kennedy called for a strong and united Europe that could speak with a common voice — a world power capable of meeting world problems as a full and equal partner to the United States. If President Kennedy had attended our meeting last week, he would have seen we have heeded his call.

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