Ambassador Mark Gitenstein Interview with Maria Tadeo – Bloomberg
Bloomberg: Yes, he is, because he is a U.S. Ambassador to the European Union: Mark Gitenstein. Thank you so much for being with us. And look on this show, this is full disclaimer, we spend so much time debating about the relationships between the United States and the European Union, well you’re the Ambassador, how do you see it?
Ambassador Gitenstein: Well, I have the privilege of serving as US Ambassador to the EU at probably the high point in the last half century, in the relationship between the EU and the United States. And I think there probably three reasons for that: one President Biden ran for election on the platform of rebuilding this relationship, and all multilateral relationships, but in particular, the transatlantic relationship. Number two, it does make a difference that we have a common enemy. We have Russia threatening the very existence of the transatlantic relationship, both in NATO and the EU. And third, I think it’s the statecraft that’s been demonstrated by the leaders on both sides of the Atlantic not only by President Biden, but also by Presidents von der Leyen and Michel who have worked very closely with President Biden. On the EU relationship, President Metsola deserves credit as well. And then at the next level, Joseph Borrell, and Tony Blinken and myself have a very good relationship. And at the staff levels of all of these offices, we’re in constant touch with each other. And I think that we’re like all on the same team.
Bloomberg: Mr. Ambassador, and that was not always the case. I remember at a point when President Trump was of course president of the United States and the relationship, let’s be very clear, broke down at one point. there was very little communication. You see, now it’s working, but there’s an election next year. So, what’s going to happen? It can go both ways.
Ambassador Gitenstein: Well President Biden is going to win reelection.
Bloomberg: oh, he will win the election?
Ambassador Gitenstein: Yes. You heard it here first.
Bloomberg: So, you’re saying no worry he is getting reelected?
Ambassador Gitenstein: I am confident that he will be reelected. Regardless, we are building institutional relationships and making commitments that will hold us in good stead for the next 50 years. I think we’re also in the process of building a new security structure much like what happened in the Truman administration, but 80 years ago. It’s being driven by events. And I think, on both sides of the Atlantic, there is an understanding and a commitment to a new, revitalized relationship.
Bloomberg: you’re talking about economic security. And that takes me, of course, and you knew this, to China, you talk about de-risk. The European Commission two days ago, further, I repeated this idea of de risk. Do you feel the Europeans have moved closer to your assessment or actually this is a convergence?
Ambassador Gitenstein: I think the best thing to read the best things to read about this would be probably Jake Sullivan’s speech at Brookings, where he goes through sort of a new economic strategy. I think, the paper that the Commission just released on economic security, this 14-page paper which is a starting point in the in the debate in the Commission on the European Union describes de-risking very eloquently.
Bloomberg: which is?
Ambassador Gitenstein: Which is to recognize that secure supply chains and export controls and protecting national security is as important as trade and that you have to build structures on both sides of the Atlantic that are capable of protecting both. And I think that’s we have spent hours discussing this between both sides. But at the end, it’s a sovereign decision by the United States and by the European Union as to how to handle it. I think that paper is a very good beginning. This was done by the European Commission. I only saw it after it was released but I was pleased with what I saw.
Bloomberg: and that is your message? you say you are pleased by what you saw. But I also want to bring up the elephant in the room some do say at times in in Europe, and you know this very well being in Brussels that yes, it is clear that China is not a Western democratic country that is clear for everyone in Europe to see. But at the same time, some would argue the United States can be confrontational too, and they don’t want to be dragged into this. Is there a misconception in terms of what you’re trying to do here? Is there a message for Europeans that you want to send?
Ambassador Gitenstein: Europeans and Americans want to build an economy that serves the broader purposes of climate change. The other existential threats whether they come from Russia or China or wherever. That also serves workers on both sides of the Atlantic including a new industrial policy. And I think that’s what you see here happening.
Bloomberg: And the industrial policy we – you of course, have the inflation Reduction Act. The head of the Commission said she wants to create what is promoting and protecting “made in Europe”. You want to protect “made in America”. She wants to do “made in Europe”, how is that compatible?
Ambassador Gitenstein: Well, because we both face the same threat.
Bloomberg: You don’t believe there could be trade tensions again?
Ambassador Gitenstein: There are trade tensions, but that’s natural between two democratic systems and we have to bring them to the same page and that’s primarily what I do for a living is I try and build consensus on both sides of the Atlantic on these very issues. And as I liked, somebody asked me what my job was, and I said, “it is keep bad things from happening,”. And one of the bad things is if we have a misunderstanding. There’s no reason for a misunderstanding because our ultimate goals are the same.
Bloomberg: And can I ask you when it comes to von der Leyen in particular, some say she is the most US compatible EU official, I’m not sure what U.S. compatible means. But in your view, is she the most compatible person for you is this a person that you pick up the phone and you say, I want to talk to her?
Ambassador Gitenstein: I don’t look at it that way. She is the sovereign head of a sovereign entity, and my job is to relate to her and be sure that she and President Biden have a good relationship, just as he has with President Michel. And I sat on March 10 in a four-hour meeting with the two of them, and I was stunned at how well they got along. They are- they communicate very well to each other. They have different interests because they represent different systems, but they are able to reach common ground pretty easily. Same is true with President Michel. And the same is true between High Representative Borrell and the Secretary of State. I’ve been in all those meetings. And it’s amazing how much their common goals are the same.
Bloomberg: And that’s reflected very much again, and the tone is palpable things have really changed for the better with with this administration. You can and I can see that-
Ambassador Gitenstein: That’s true, but part of it is you have very talented leaders who listen to each other.
Bloomberg: so, then that takes me to my final question. If you believe President Biden will win the election, he’ll be reelected. Will you be happy if Madame von der Leyen gets a new term at the commission?
Ambassador Gitenstein: We have a great relationship.
Bloomberg: So, you want to see that?
Ambassador Gitenstein: We have a great relationship and I’m not gonna get into the battle of who they should select as their president, but continuity will be good in terms of the relationship, but this is a decision for the Europeans to make not us.
Bloomberg: Well, Mr. Ambassador thank you so much. By the way, is your life anything like the show on Netflix? Not in the UK-
Ambassador Gitenstein: It’s not by the way. I don’t fly around in a private plane. I don’t have anybody selecting my suits.
Bloomberg: You’ve done it for yourself.
Ambassador Gitenstein: That should be obvious.
Bloomberg: Thank you so much. We appreciate your time. Hopefully we get to hear more from you here on Bloomberg TV and this very important hour in European programming.
Ambassador Gitenstein: Well, you invite me back and I’ll come.
Bloomberg: Well, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
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