- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Red-tape alert

For the trans-Atlantic market, an automaker must crash-test a new vehicle twice: once to meet the standards of the European Union and once to meet those of the United States.

The same red tape applies to manufacturers of cosmetics, medicine and other products aimed for nearly 300,000 American and 460,000 EU consumers, and all those regulations are hurting trade, said Ambassador John Bruton, the EU envoy in Washington.

“All these restrictions add to the price that consumers must pay for the end product,” Mr. Bruton wrote in his weekly Ambassador’s Corner column on the EU Web site (www.eurunion.org).

“They also reduce the competitiveness of the European and American economies vis-a-vis their rivals in Asia and elsewhere. We simply cannot afford to load more costs on the shoulders of our consumers or place more restrictions in the way of our businesses, if we are to meet and beat our global competitors.”

He noted that reducing trade regulations will be high on the agenda at a Washington meeting in April with President Bush, EU Council President Jose Manuel Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the union of 27 member nations.

Mr. Bruton said Mrs. Merkel is promoting an initiative to streamline EU and U.S. trade regulations.

“This is not a trade agreement or a free-trade area,” Mr. Bruton wrote. “Apart from a few sectors, the tariff barriers across the Atlantic are modest or nonexistent. The goal we are seeking is a different one.”

European critics grumble about a Brussels-based bureaucracy that is remote, inefficient and heavily centralized, while American critics of U.S. red tape echo many of the same complaints about Washington regulators.

However, Mr. Bruton, a former Irish prime minister, acknowledged that many regulations are rooted in domestic political issues, frequently to promote protectionist policies.

“All regulations ultimately have a political source,” he wrote. “All regulations express some kind of political value system. Regulators, quite properly, respond to domestic political needs and demands.”

Mr. Bruton warned that any attempt to streamline regulations without recognizing “political realities” will fail.

“This is why it is my personal belief that we need to find a new transatlantic arrangement that will actively involved the majority and minority leaderships in the U.S. Congress and their European Parliament counterparts, if we are to have successful regulatory convergence across the Atlantic,” he wrote.

Last week the European Union released its annual review of U.S. trade barriers, citing progress in removing some corporate taxes imposed on foreign companies and other regulations that irritated European companies. It also reported that total U.S.-EU trade has grown to more than $1.5 billion a day, trailing the daily trade between the United States and its largest trading partner, Canada, by about $500 million.

Open in Romania

A top diplomat at the Romanian Embassy will soon return to her native land to open the Bucharest office of the McGuireWoods Consulting firm, which has counted Romania as one of its international clients since 2004.

Nadia Crisan, a first secretary at the embassy, “brings a unique combination of skills in diplomacy, international and media relations and a deep commitment to serving clients,” said L.F. Payne, a former Democratic congressman from Virginia and president of the Richmond-based firm.

“She was responsible for promoting Romania’s policies and interests before the U.S. Senate, strengthening relations with American investors in Romania and articulating the Romanian perspective on international security to various Washington think tanks,” he said.

Miss Crisan received a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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