France’s Ambassador on the Economy, the EU and the US
Interview with Ambassador Pierre Vimont at The University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the European Union Center on October 21, 2008
This month the International Monetary Fund released a bleak outlook for economic growth in the United States and many European countries in 2009. The IMF estimates the US economy will grow by only 0.1 percent — and for countries like Spain, the United Kingdom and Italy, it projects a probable recession. Under the current EU presidency of France, the European Union is working to get its economies back on track. AM 580’s Michael Koliska talked with France’s Ambassador to the US, Pierre Vimont, as he visited the UI. Vimont says currently, Europe is working on three fronts.
PV : First of all we have to stop this crisis as much as possible you see try to put some water on the fire. Which amount for the total of the European Union above 1,500 billion Euros, so that is a lot of money. The second thing after that is to look at after that is what could be the implications for the real economy and if we are going to have a slow down and even maybe a recession. So we have already started having exchanges of view between the members of the European Union to see which kind of a policy we should try to adopt in each of our countries. Thirdly, its to look on the longer term and what could be the reform of the financial system in terms of better control, better surveillance of the market, common rules and regulation on rating agencies etc.
MK : But do you feel that there is maybe going to be some conflict in between the perception of regulation from the E.U. side and the U.S. side ?
PV : No I think it is a question of balance of finding the right balance we are all in favor of keeping the free market. Nicolas Sarkozy when he went last Saturday to Camp David said so, that he agreed that he didn’t want to get rid of capitalism, on the contrary he wants to get back to basics and fundamentals of what was the real capitalistic system which was not a system of where you were more in a casino than in a real capitalist system.
MK : Are there any plans for how to collaborate with the United States ?
PV : Collaboration has already started for instance the meeting in Camp David, Saturday between President Bush, President Sarkozy and President Barroso which means a meeting between the United States on one side and Europe on the other side is a clear testimony to that kind of cooperation that we want to have.
MK : In two weeks there is going to be an election here, what do you expect from a new administration ?
PV : For France and for Europe is to give a new momentum to the transatlantic partnership we are at a time when both the United States on one side and the European Union on the other side are facing the same kind of challenges and those are tremendous and we won’t find a solution on our own, we need to work together. And try to find together how to proceed with those challenges such as non proliferation, the fight against terrorism, very specific issues such as Afghanistan, Africa and Darfur, and on all those issues we have to work together. Europe is ready to work together with the United States because Europe as it goes on and as it completes its building and its construction wants to play a great role in world affairs and is ready to do that.
MK : You mentioned a lot of what is important as a dialogue and with what possible future administration do you think Europe can have the best dialogue.
PV : We intend to dialogue with both, whoever wins the election, I won’t get into promoting one or the other candidates, its not my role as a French diplomat, but you can be sure, the foreign ministers have already discussed that in one of their informal meetings they will discuss again at the end of this month in Paris they want to have their position ready with regards to transatlantic partnership before the next administration is in place in order to start that dialogue as quickly as possible. /.