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Euro-American relations
European Union   United States
Map indicating location of European Union and United States
     European Union      United States

Relations between the European Union – United States are the bilateral relations between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA). Due to the EU not having a fully integrated foreign policy, relations can be more complicated where the EU does not have a common agreed position. EU foreign policy was divided during the Iraq War and although the US supports European integration (and accession of Turkey to the EU) it is no longer the main focus it once was during the Cold War.



Relations with
member states
Czech Republic
United Kingdom

Euro-American relations are primarily concerned with trade policy. The EU is a near-fully unified trade bloc and this, together with competition policy, are the primary matters of substance currently between the EU and the USA. The two together represent 60% of global GDP, 33% of world trade in goods and 42% of world trade in services. The growth of the EU's economic power has led to a number of trade conflicts between the two powers; although both are dependent upon the other's economic market and disputes affect only 2% of trade. See below for details of trade flows;[1]

Direction of trade Goods Services Investment
EU to US €260 billion €139.0 billion €112.6 billion
US to EU €127.9 billion €180 billion €144.5 billion



Arms embargo on the People's Republic of China

Both the United States and the European Union as of 2005 have an arms embargo against China (PRC), put in place in 1989 after the events of Tiananmen Square. The U.S. and some EU members continue to support the ban but others, spearheaded by France, have been attempting to persuade the EU to lift the ban, arguing that more effective measures can be imposed, but also to improve trade relations between China and certain EU states. The U.S. strongly opposes this, and after the PRC passed an anti-secession law against Taiwan the likelihood of the ban being lifted diminished somewhat.

Boeing and Airbus subsidies

The two companies are the major competing aircraft manufacturers, and both Boeing and Airbus are accused of receiving forms of subsidy from the United States[2] and from some of the European Union member states respectively, which both sides have criticised each other for doing. The pressure for this issue to be resolved has increased as Airbus and Boeing are now nearly equal in commercial aircraft market share.


The defence of Europe is assigned to NATO and Europeans are more averse to using military force, and paying for military force, than the US. This has frustrated the US who sees Europe as failing to support its side of the NATO operation in Afghanistan. Only a handful of European countries are reaching the NATO target for 2% of GDP going to defence.[3] Defence cooperation in Europe is often opposed by the UK which states it does not wish to undermine NATO or the US role in Europe, despite the US being supportive of Europe improving its capabilities.

Genetically modified food

Genetically modified food is another significant area of disagreement between the two. The EU has been under domestic pressure to restrict the growth and import of genetically modified foods until their safety is proven to the satisfaction of the populous. The US on the other hand is under pressure from its agricultural businesses to force the EU to accept imports, seeing the EU's restrictions as alarmist and protectionist.


The Washington Post claimed on November 2, 2005 that the USA has several secret jails in Eastern Europe (also called black sites). Poland and Romania however have denied these allegations. Also, Central Intelligence Agency planes carrying terror suspects would have made secret stopovers in several West European countries since 2001. Belgium, Iceland, Spain, and Sweden have launched investigations. The Guardian calculated on November 30 that CIA planes landed about 300 times on European air ports. Most planes would have landed in Germany and the United Kingdom as a transit point to East Europe, North Africa (possibly Morocco and Egypt), or the Middle East (possibly Syria and Jordan). In the meanwhile, the European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, asked the US for a clarification. The EU has refused to confirm or deny the reports.[4][5][6][7][8]

Extraordinary rendition flights through Europe were investigated over a number of years by the European Parliament and it held a temporary committee on the matter. The EU has also opposed the presence of Guantanamo bay and offered to host some former inmates when its closer was announced by the Obama administration.

Death penalty

In the United States, capital punishment is a legal form of punishment, whereas all European Union member states have abolished the death penalty fully (excluding Latvia which has retained it for exceptional circumstances such as wartime only). Indeed, nearly all European states no longer use the death penalty. This causes problems with transatlantic relations because it may be illegal for an EU member to allow the extradition of a citizen to the U.S. if the death penalty is an option.

International Criminal Court

The U.S. is strongly opposed to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and has not signed up to it, though most states in Europe have. The U.S. fears that its soldiers may be subject to politically motivated prosecutions, so much so that it has signed many bilateral agreements with other countries in an attempt to avoid this.

Arab-Israeli conflict

In the Arab-Israeli conflict, both sides of the Atlantic usually act more or less in tandem, in regard to the approach to the Palestinian territories as well as other issues (such as the recent conflict in Lebanon). However, in general, the European Union is often more critical of Israel, particularly in issues of policy (such as the West Bank barrier). The U.S. has historically been a much more supportive ally, going so far as to even use its veto at the United Nations Security Council in Israel's support.

Iran and weapons of mass destruction

The United States has not ruled out the use of force against Iran regarding the Iranian nuclear weapons program. France, Germany and the United Kingdom have taken the lead to solve the issue diplomatically, while representing the interests of the United States in negotiations with Iran since the United States has had no official diplomatic relations with the country since 1979. Former UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, described military action against Iran as "inconceivable".[9]

Iraq War

The Iraq War not only divided opinions within European nations and within the U.S., but between European nations themselves, with some states supporting of military action, and some against. The European public opinion was staunchly opposed to the war. This caused a major transatlantic rift, especially between the states led by France and Germany[10] [11] on the one hand, who were against military action, and the United States with United Kingdom and Poland, among others.[12] The repercussions of this major dividing issue have still not healed fully.

Kyoto protocol

The European Union is one of the main backers of the Kyoto protocol, which aims to combat global warming. The United States which initially signed the protocol at its creation during the Clinton Administration, never had the measure ratified by the United States Senate, an essential requirement to give the protocol the force of law in the United States. Later, in March 2001, under President George W. Bush, the United States removed its signature from the protocol, leading to much acrimony between the United States and European nations. Recently, President Barack Obama, however, said that he planned on re-signing the protocol at a conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009, where the protocol will be renewed and its measures extended.[13]

Visa waiver reciprocity

The EU is requesting from the US reciprocity regarding the visa waiver program for all its members. The European Union has threatened with the possibility of imposing visas for American citizens that would extend to the entire EU.

Resolved issues

Banana wars

The EU and US had a long running dispute over the EU's banana imports.[14] [15] As part of their international aid, the EU offered tenders on a first-come-first-served basis for bananas from countries in Africa, the Carribean and the Pacific. The US argued that this favoured local producers in former colonies of EU member-states, over US-owned corporations in Latin America. The Clinton administration responded by imposing heavy tarrifs on luxury goods created in the EU.[16] Such goods included cashmere from Scotland, the electoral basis of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and French Cognac brandy, made in the electoral fiefdom of then Prime Minister of France Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The Clinton administration then took the banana wars to the WTO in 1999, when Chiquita made a $500 000 donation to the Democratic Party.[17] The two sides reached an agreement in 2001.[18]

U.S. steel tariffs

In 2002, the U.S. imposed steel tariffs to protect its steel industry. The European Union and other countries took up the issue with the World Trade Organization, which ruled that such tariffs breach its regulations. Subsequently, by December 2003, the tariffs had been lifted by the U.S. administration.


The current EU ambassador to the US is João Vale de Almeida and the EU's embassy in Washington D.C. was the first overseas delegation of the EU to open.

See also


External links


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