EU PAPER LAYS OUT PROPOSALS FOR CLOSER US TIES

EU PAPER LAYS OUT PROPOSALS FOR CLOSER US TIES

The European Commission Wednesday launched a strategy paper laying out the framework for a closer economic, political and security relationship with the United States that eventually could blossom into a trans-Atlantic free trade zone.

The paper marks the start of six months of intensive consultations between Brussels and Washington leading up to the EU summit in Madrid in December where the bloc's leaders will launch an "action plan."The document detailed several concrete proposals, including the eventual creation of a Trans-Atlantic Economic Space and the launching of a joint EU-U.S. feasibility study of a trans-Atlantic free trade area.

The commission said that despite some high-profile disagreements over specific trade disputes in recent weeks, such as bananas and wheat, most

trans-Atlantic trade is trouble-free and that tariffs are relatively low.

The commission said the EU should set a goal of creating a Trans- Atlantic Economic Space. It advocates a "building block" approach.

The new dialogue should include regulatory cooperation and mutual recognition of each other's testing and certification procedures in telecommunications, electrical safety, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and other sectors.

Sir Leon Brittan, the EU's trade commissioner, said he has instructed his negotiators to accelerate talks with Washington to reach agreement this year on mutual recognition of standards.