MEPs from the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) visited Washington DC and Norfolk, VA from 31 October to 3 November to discuss the transatlantic relationship, global security challenges, and EU-NATO cooperation. In this context MEPs held open and frank discussions with their parliamentary counterparts from the House of Representatives and the Senate and high-ranking representatives of the US administration. Moreover they visited NATO Allied Command Transformation and the US Naval Station in Norfolk VA.
Relations with Iran in the context of the US administration’s recent decertification of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) were a frequently discussed topic. MEPs made it clear to the US side that the EU is strongly in favour of maintaining the deal which was struck in 2015. They acknowledged serious difficulties with some aspects of policy towards Iran but recalled that these were not part of the scope of the nuclear deal and should be tackled through other ways and means outside the context of the deal itself.
During their meetings MEPs discussed various key issues of the transatlantic security partnership, focussing particularly on the future of NATO-EU relations, expressed their concern about the meddling of Russia with elections in western democracies and about the situation in Eastern Ukraine and the Western Balkans. However, most importantly, MEPs underlined the centrality of thriving US-EU relations for global peace and stability.
David McAllister, AFET-Chair, said: “This visit convinced me that transatlantic relations remain important as ever and that the potential for more cooperation is substantial. However, as friends we can also be honest about potential disagreements. We sent a strong message that the JCPOA is a vital component of our mutual security and should be preserved as long as it is not violated by Iran. I have to say that we were reassured to find out that our differences might not be as significant as we feared.”
SEDE Chair Anna Fotyga added: “Our visit to Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk demonstrated the substantial progress that is being made in the complementary relationship between the EU and NATO. Our cooperation is closer than ever before and the first projects, such as on common exercises are starting to bear fruit.”
During their visit, MEPs also met with representatives of the Department of Defence, the State Department and the National Security Council. Moreover MEPs discussed transatlantic security and defence challenges with leading US think-tanks.
Composition of the Delegation
Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, David McALLISTER (EPP, DE), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, Anna FOTYGA (ECR, PL), Elmar BROK (EPP, DE), Dubravka SUICA (EPP, HR), Bogdan ZDROJEWSKI (EPP, PL), Ioan Mircea PASCU (S&D, RO), Neena GILL (S&D, UK), Knut FLECKENSTEIN (S&D, DE), Clare MOODY (S&D, UK), Angel DZHAMBAZKI (ECR, BG) and Javier COUSO (GUE/NGL, ES).