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Declaration on the Brussels visit of US President

EESC President Anne-Marie Sigmund: Declaration on the occasion of the Brussels visit of U.S. President George W. Bush

A reinforced transatlantic dialogue will be beneficial to the rest of the world

EU–US relations have a long, mutually beneficial history and rely on strong foundations of shared basic convictions of open, democratic societies. A strong transatlantic partnership is an important driving force in dealing with the challenges ahead. The efforts both in the EU and the US to further enhance Transatlantic Relations are to be commended.

Working together bilaterally and within the framework of multilateral institutions, the transatlantic partners must continue to combine the vision and capabilities needed to address the challenges of our time in the interest of their respective societies, but also the rest of the world.

EU and US share responsibility for global governance

Both economies face important challenges in the years ahead, giving rise to the need for increased dialogue and cooperation. Although globalisation has opened the door to many benefits, it has not had positive effects for all. The EU and the US, by combining their efforts, can give effect to the economic, social and environmental potential of globalisation by improving governance both at national and at international level, including through social and civil dialogue. Globalisation needs to be based on universally shared values and respect for human rights and individual dignity.

Fighting, the threat of international terrorism and corruption as well as building social partners and civil society structures all over the world is essential for making the world safer and improving citizens' opportunities to participate in the decisions that determine their living and working conditions. International organisations need to coordinate their efforts for better global governance. Their internal governance should also be improved and include social and civil dialogue.

Broader and stronger transatlantic cooperation

We strongly support transatlantic cooperation and recommend that it be strengthened and broadened. The widest possible range of interests and actors from American and European Civil Society should be involved. We need a broader approach and to include issues relevant for the Dialogues and their respective constituencies on both sides of the Atlantic.

Public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic shows common ground as well as differences. While the differences are more distinct in foreign policy issues, there is common ground on economic, social and environmental issues. Continuous and intense dialogue is necessary not only in the long-term interests of the EU and the US, but also for the rest of the world.

On the economic side, there is a long-standing debate on a Transatlantic Free Trade Area. An approach is required which combines the economic, social and environmental dimension based on economic, social and territorial cohesion.

Although economic issues have been at the forefront of transatlantic cooperation, other aspects should also be included, for example environment and climate change. It is to be regretted that the social dimension of the relationship is hardly mentioned.

The Dialogue Structure can and should be further developed to include a broader range of civil society networks. These dialogues and networks should have equal access to governments and high-level officials, which would make their functioning and work more attractive to their respective interest groups. Their considerations should be better taken into account in political decisions.

The EESC is ready to contribute to increased information and interaction between these networks and dialogues. We want to serve as a forum for promoting dialogue and bringing together the relevant parties. This could lead to regular and continuous cooperation. The Committee is preparing a conference together with the relevant actors and institutions to strengthen the dialogue.

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