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European Commission


Brussels, 22 April 2013

President Barroso's and US State Secretary Kerry's meeting with European Commission trainees

Question: My name is Alex, I'm from the US, Kentucky. I'm a stagiaire in DG ECFIN, doing communications. First of all, I want to thank you both for agreeing to speak with us. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are very grateful and very lucky to have this opportunity. My question is in regard with the future agreement; I was wondering what you both specifically, in your capacities are doing to make sure the agreement goes through.

President Barroso: First of all, let me welcome the fact that our DG for Economic and Financial Affairs have an American stagiaire, because the Americans are better that we, Europeans, at communicating. I think we are not always bright in terms of communicating what we are doing, in the great amount of work that we have been putting to respond to this crisis.

One of the responses to the relatively modest growth that we have in the industrialised world today, is more trade. It is also the most efficient and the most economic way, because we don't need to ask taxpayers money for that. So I really believe that the Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement between the US and the European Union can be a game changer because these are the two biggest economies in the world. And if we address the issue of tariffs, and also the non tariff matters, some regulatory difficulties that we have on both sides, we will get much more opportunities for business on both sides of the Atlantic. And the business community wants this very much. We have been working with American and European entrepreneurs in order to make their life easier if we have as much as possible the same rules, and by facilitating all kinds of exchanges in terms of goods, services and of course investment in general.

So it looks promising. But let's be honest, there will be resistance on both sides, we know that. Every time there is change there is resistance. But I think we can do it. That's why following the agreement to have a High Level Group on both sides, we have agreed to launch this preparatory phase. President Obama and ourselves, we made a common statement. Now we are working on the European side to have the mandate from the Member States. I think it is possible to have it before summer, it is possible to keep the momentum and make it good for both sides. The meaning of this for the world would be extremely important. These are the two most important economies in the world.

Question: My name is Carl. I'm from Belgian, from DG Trade. However, I'm not going to ask you a question on trade. So as the US and EU are struggling to reorganise their respective economies, the recent tragic events in Boston have reminded us how terrorism constitutes a threat to liberal democracy. How do you see the EU and the US further maximising the corporate efforts in this area?

President Barroso: In fact the United States and Europe have been working very closely together to fight terrorism in a resolute manner. This kind of crimes, violence against innocent people, are simply unacceptable. There can be no justification at all. To kill innocent people is completely against all our moral standards. And yes, Europe and the United States have been together, and I'm sure we will remain together in that battle against terrorism.

Now the Secretary said there is a different dimension there. There is an economic context. We have the same approach. In fact when the Arab Spring started we immediately presented a strategy for our neighbourhood, so we can support the transition in these societies to democracy and rule of law. It's a challenging process but I believe we should make a bet on democracy. We cannot expect Europe to make the opposite bet. Yes, the transition has some challenges but we need to make that bet on democracy. But at the same time we believe the best way to deal with terrorism is the full respect of the principles of the rule of law and democracy. So we can be though in police terms, like in Boston, Massachusetts, and how the federal authorities reacted to this bomb attacks immediately, but we have to do everything in full respect of the principles of our open societies. This is very important in Europe, as we understand the fight against terrorism, and not to use the methods that some non-democratic forces use. I know it's difficult, but this is the challenge, and we are also a part of this, in making efforts in terms of the defence in other fora where we are cooperating. So this is a challenge, but I believe we are going to win that challenge against terrorism.

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