2016 to be pivotal year for EU-US relations
A series of pivotal events is likely to make 2016 an era-defining year that will strengthen the transatlantic relationship, believes David McAllister.
This year looks like it will be a defining one for the transatlantic relationship. This is not only because of US presidential and congressional elections. There are also a number of crucial EU-US endeavours in 2016 that will impact both sides of the Atlantic. Recent tragic events in Brussels remind us how important common effort is in areas such as counterterrorism.
These horrific acts, like the ones in Paris and San Bernardino, are an attack on our values and our way of life; they can only be effectively confronted with a united front.
This topic will head the agenda at the next Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue (TLD) meeting in June. As European Chairman of the TLD, I look forward to accompanying our counterparts to Europol.
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Its headquarters host liaison officers from US law enforcement agencies working on the Brussels and Paris investigations and on the issue of radicalised returning fighters.
One challenge we face is fighting this battle without major disruption of visa free travel, an integral pillar of our commercial and cultural ties.
Transatlantic coordination to address the root causes of terrorism, through fighting Isis and finding political process in Syria would help alleviate the unprecedented refugee crisis. The complimentary roles of the US and EU are the driving force in this process.
Common efforts in foreign and security policy are also visible beyond the Middle East; the Nato reassurance initiative in Eastern Europe, the steadfast sanctions against Russia, the upcoming EU-US energy Council and the beginnings of a structured EU-US military dialogue in 2016 are testament to our collaboration.
TTIP is another vital joint endeavour. Trade negotiations are never easy, particularly when conducted between two giants of global trade.
As we approach the 13th round of negotiations, we are entering the 'middle game', tackling sensitive issues such as public procurement and rule-making.
As parliamentarians, we should explain to constituents how TTIP is not an objective, but rather a process to deliver lower prices, more economic growth and jobs. We should trust our negotiators not to jeopardise principles, safeguards and standards that the EU has taken decades to establish in its own internal market.
The proof will be in the actual text. While ratification seems unlikely before 2017, concluding a consolidated text by the end of the year would be a major achievement.
Another defining joint dossier concerns updating and restoring trust in our data policies. The judicial redress act was a much-needed piece of the data protection puzzle and it came about through our close relations with Congress.
The proposed replacement for the safe harbour agreement is a second such piece - once we ensure that member states give their green light and that it will not be subject to legal challenges. The umbrella agreement for protecting personal data, currently under consideration in the Parliament, is an important third task.
The forthcoming UK referendum will test our transatlantic relationship. Despite the occasional differences and examinations of transatlantic resolve in 2016, I trust that in an increasingly difficult world that our oldest and most strategic bond will endure and grow.
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