The Norman Transcript

January 15, 2014

European Union ambassador to U.S. speaks at university

By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Joao Vale de Almeida spoke Tuesday to University of Oklahoma students and the general public about “Transitions in Europe and America: The Future of EU-US Relations.”

The event was sponsored by the European Union Center, with support from the College of International Studies and Department of International and Area Studies.

Almeida is the head of the delegation of the European Union to the U.S. Prior to his appointment in Washington as the European Union’s ambassador, Almeida served as the director general for external relations at the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body.

As the most senior official under the authority of the High Representative and Vice President Baroness Ashton, he helped formulate and execute the EU’s foreign policy and prepare for the new European External Action Service, which was introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon.

From 2004 to 2009, Almeida was the head of the cabinet for European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. He accompanied Barroso in the European Council (EU Summit) meetings and coordinated with private offices of heads of state and governments in all 28 EU member states.

Almeida began his presentation by explaining what major transitions he thought would take place in the upcoming year in the U.S. and the EU.

Such transitions will include a political transition in the U.S., as Barack Obama’s effectiveness as a president can begin to be measured while he’s in the middle of his second and last term, and an elections transition in the EU, as about 510 million people are called on to elect 700 new positions, including the president of the European Union Commission, the president of the European Union Council and a new representative of foreign affairs, Almeida said.

Almeida discussed the possibilities of the United States and European Union continuing to work together so they are ahead of these transitions.

“Who is going to call the shots of the world economy? Should the largest market determine how it will work, like China or India?” Almeida said. “We (European Union) want to increase the chances of having a say.”

Electric cars and nano technology have no current regulation, Almeida said, asking attendees who will make the first move.

Almeida then noted the current deal signed in November — which is about to be implemented — to stop Iran from having nuclear weapons, as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trading agreement as examples of the way the EU and the U.S. can make a difference.

“Transatlantic partners, like the U.S. and EU, can promote their interests when they work together,” Almeida said.

Almeida said the EU has a wealth of diversity and experience that partners like the U.S. should utilize.

“The EU is a beautiful example of peace, freedom and prosperity.”

Katherine Parker


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