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Strengthening Our Partnership With The European Union

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Wednesday, May 31, 2000


Today, in Lisbon, Portugal, President Clinton held a summit with Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Guterres and European Union Commission President Romano Prodi. New agreements between the U.S. and EU were announced, including a protocol which will simplify international trademark registration; establishment of a forum to study the benefits and risks of biotechnology; a safe-harbor data privacy accord to help U.S. businesses comply with European privacy laws; and a response to the critical global infectious disease threats of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.

Reaching Agreement on Trademark Registration. The U.S. and the EU have reached an agreement that will simplify international trademark registration. Under the agreement, U.S. companies will no longer be required to register their trademarks in individual EU-member states. Instead, they will:

  • Be able to file a single application, valid in all participating EU-member countries and other participating states;
  • Pay a single fee, saving hundreds of millions of dollars on registering and amending trademarks; and
  • Greatly reduce waiting periods for processing of trademark registration applications.

Establishing a Forum on Biotechnology. Lack of European public confidence in food safety has led to a standstill on approval of biotech foods, which is undermining progress on food security in developing nations, causing uncertainty in world markets, and harming U.S. farm exports. Today, the U.S. and the EU agreed to establish a consultative forum to study the benefits and risks of biotechnology and issue a report for the December 2000 U.S.-EU Summit. The forum will include scientists, ethicists, environmentalists, farmers, and consumers who will look at factors such as the food security needs of developing countries, food safety, health, and the environment.

Protecting Consumers' Privacy. In October 1998, the EU enacted a sweeping privacy law that prohibits the transfer of personal data to the U.S and other countries that do not meet EU's privacy protection standards. Today, the U.S. and the EU agreed to a "safe harbor" Data Privacy Accord that will protect consumers' privacy, maintain data flow, and create the right environment for e-commerce. The accord will enable the EU to certify that participating U.S. companies meet the EU requirement for privacy protection, thereby helping U.S. organizations comply with the EU privacy law and preventing the potential disruption of approximately $120 billion in U.S.-EU trade.

Fighting Infectious Diseases. Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, causing nearly half of all deaths among people under age 45. HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis together kill over 5 million people worldwide each year. The U.S. and the EU today announced a joint response to these infectious diseases, including:

  • Seeking increased government and private-sector resources for combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB;
  • Supporting an increase in World Bank and regional development bank resources devoted to health care;
  • Encouraging poor countries to use funds made available under the Cologne Debt Relief Initiative to build health systems and combat infectious diseases; and
  • Developing new incentives and partnerships to make drugs and vaccines more available and affordable.

The Importance of the U.S.-EU Partnership. The U.S. relationship with the EU is vital to American and European prosperity, our common values, and global security and stability:

  • The EU is the United States' largest trading partner and largest investment partner. This two-way trade supports a total of more than six million jobs in the U.S. and the EU. European companies are the number one investors in 41 of 50 U.S. states, and number two in the remaining nine;
  • The U.S. and the EU share a commitment to democratic values, human rights, rule of law, and free markets;
  • EU diplomatic and financial support have assisted U.S. efforts in bringing stability and prosperity to areas including Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Bosnia, Albania, and Central Africa. Together, the U.S. and EU provide 90 percent of the humanitarian aid in the world.

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