Ambassador Gardner’s Remarks for the 2015 Ambassador in Review Wrap-Up

2015 was an eventful year, which proved that the US-EU bond is holding firm despite the many challenges facing the US-EU partnership – both within Europe and beyond. This year, I have been struck by the continued relevance, perhaps as never before, of our common transatlantic values.

I feel very confident that the EU is the essential partner of the United States on nearly every major transatlantic issue and even on many global issues.

The EU and United States have stood firm against Russia’s misguided attempts to redraw the borders of Europe. We stand firm in our determination that Ukraine succeed as a democratic, stable and prosperous country. We agree that sanctions on Russia should only be eased once Minsk is fully implemented, and once Ukraine regains full control over its internationally recognized borders.

At Europol, the European Police Office, law enforcement and customs agencies from the 28 Member States of the European Union and 14 non-EU countries, including the United States, work side by side in task forces to restrict terrorist financing, combat smuggling of foreign terrorist fighters from conflict zones, and establish links between known and suspected terrorists.

Within an hour of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, U.S. law enforcement agencies joined European investigators at the command center established at Europol. Within the following hours, days and weeks, U.S. law enforcement provided over 1000 leads to French and Belgian counterparts to further the investigation and disrupt potential future attacks.

Today, we are working more closely than ever before on security issues. For example, the U.S. European Command recently signed an administrative agreement with the EU Military Staff. We are also making good progress on an agreement which would enable U.S. and European defense forces to share common logistics and servicing requirements, when needed.

We have also provided over $4.5 billion in humanitarian assistance since the start of the Syrian crisis – more than any other single donor – to help address dire humanitarian conditions faced by displaced people in the region. We are actively looking at many ways we can be helpful to the EU in dealing with the challenges of migration flows.

T-TIP provides an opportunity to promote growth and job creation, as well as to extend our strategic influence during uncertain times. We must make a decision together: either lead on global trade or be left on the sidelines. We made important progress in 2015, especially with regard to tariffs and services. We have an opportunity to conclude a deal before the end of President Obama’s term.

For the last two years, we have worked closely with the European Commission to strengthen the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Framework, with robust and transparent protection, including clear oversight by the Department of Commerce and strong enforcement by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In 2016, we will continue to work with the Commission to release an updated framework.

The historic signing of the climate agreement in Paris establishes for the first time an ambitious, durable climate regime that applies to all countries; is fair; focuses both on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building resilience; and includes strong accountability measures.

Looking forward to 2016, we will continue to work closely with our friends and partners at the EU, and to reinforce the special transatlantic bond. From Me and all of us at the US Mission to the EU, I would like to wish a Happy Holiday season!