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MODERATOR:  Good evening from the State Department’s Brussels Media Hub.  I would like to welcome everyone joining us for today’s virtual press briefing.  We’re very honored to be joined by Amanda Sloat, the Senior Director for Europe at the NSC, and Mike Pyle, the Deputy National Security Advisor.

Finally, a quick reminder that today’s briefing is on the record.  With that, let’s get started.  Ms. Sloat, please, can I turn it over to you for opening remarks?

MS SLOAT:  Yes, thanks.  And thanks for pulling this together and thanks to everybody for joining.  Delighted to have the opportunity to take a few minutes and reflect on the U.S.-EU Summit that we hosted here in Washington on Friday.  

I think if you take a step back, when President Biden came into office, he was committed to revitalizing our key alliances and partnerships, and the European Union was central to those efforts.  You’ll recall that the U.S. and EU held their first summit in Brussels in June 2021.  President Biden was in Brussels last year, in March of 2022, for a meeting with the full European Council several weeks after Russia launched its brutal further invasion of Ukraine.  And so it was a real pleasure for President Biden to host both President Michel and President von der Leyen here in Washington on Friday for the second summit of the U.S.-EU relationship.

The summit provided an opportunity to take stock of the significant progress that we have made in deepening and strengthening our partnership.  And if you look at the full range of global issues, it’s hard to think of an issue where the U.S. and EU are not working in lockstep, including close cooperation in the early days of this administration on COVID, work that we have done together on climate change, as well as everything that we have done on technology, including through the Trade and Technology Council that was launched as part of the first summit, as well as energy cooperation, including initiatives that were launched following the start of the war in Ukraine.  

The summit on Friday really underscored that the U.S. and the European Union are more united than ever.  The summit was also an opportunity to continue our close coordination on the pressing issues of today, particularly Ukraine and the situation in Israel. 

The situation in the Middle East was, of course, top of mind and a major focus of the meeting.  The U.S. and the EU stand together in responding to the events of the last several days.  We stand together in condemning in the strongest possible terms Hamas and its brutal terrorist attacks across Israel and affirming Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law, including international humanitarian law.  

The leaders also made clear that we stand together in stressing the importance of protecting civilians, supporting those who are trying to get to safety or provide assistance, and facilitating access to food, water, medical care, and shelter.  This unity was also apparent in speeches that both President Biden and President von der Leyen gave the day before the summit, which struck very similar notes. 

The leaders also spent time discussing Ukraine, which is an issue on which the United States and the European Union have worked extremely closely over the last 18 months or so.  The U.S. and the EU stand together and remain unwavering in our long-term political, financial, humanitarian, and military support to Ukraine and its people as they defend themselves against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war of aggression.  

And as you heard, the President was complimentary both publicly and privately of all that the EU has continued to do in terms of providing security assistance through the Peace Facility as well as providing hospitality to a large number of Ukrainian displaced persons and on the economic assistance side as well.

If you look at the joint statement that the U.S. and the EU released on Friday, you’ll see that one of the things mentioned there is that we are taking some additional steps together on Ukraine.  We’re deepening our joint work to undermine Russia’s ability to wage its war and to maintain and expand its defense industrial base and capacity.  And given Russia’s continued failure to abide by international law and its attempts to collapse Ukraine’s economy, we and our partners, including the EU, are convening our experts to explore options to compensate Ukraine in a timely manner for the damage that Russia has caused.

Let me turn it over to Mike now to say a few words about some of the economic issues that were addressed in the summit as well. 

MR PYLE:  Thanks, Amanda.  And it’s great to be with everyone.  I might start by just lifting back up and drawing a couple lines underneath the last two points that Amanda made.  

Obviously, the work that we’ve done alongside the EU and indeed alongside all of our G7 partners since the start of Russia’s brutal war has been historic.  And I think that last week’s summit pointed the way to two additional significant steps forward.  One, as Amanda highlighted, continuing to deepen our joint work to undermine Russia’s ability to wage its war and to maintain an expanded defense industrial base and capacity.  

This will include reaching to those who help Russia acquire items or equipment for its defense industrial base; it will include reaching to companies supplying certain critical raw materials and other high-priority items to Russia’s defense industrial base; and it will also include reaching to financial institutions and other entities facilitating such transfers.  I think this is going to be a real focus of our joint work together between now and the end of the year.  And I think that the leaders meeting on Friday was an important signal of that direction of travel ahead. 

And then secondly, again to lift up Amanda’s point, I think the leaders agreed to – in light of Russia’s continued failure to abide by international law, its continued attempts to collapse Russia’s economy, the United States and Europe will, together with our allies, convene experts around exploring options to compensate Ukraine in a timely manner for the loss, injury, and damage resulting from Russia’s aggression.  Of course, that will sit alongside efforts in the shorter term to explore how any extraordinary revenues held by private entities stemming directly from mobilized Russian sovereign assets – how those revenues could be directed to support Ukraine in its recovery, reconstruction efforts in accordance with applicable laws. 

So I think those are the – those are some of the big pieces that we took a step forward with – vis-à-vis Ukraine, around which I would expect to see more work ahead in the coming couple of months.  

I did want to lift up a few other economic priorities that the leaders spoke to and the statement delivered outcomes on.  First, with respect to strengthening economic security, the United States and the European Union, again alongside the rest of our G7 allies, have a shared interest in protecting advanced technologies that could be used to undermine global peace and security.  For example, the United States has put in place new controls on out and out investments with a clear national security nexus.  The EU is in the midst of its own process considering similar controls.  As we both take steps to achieve this shared interest, we will continue to cooperate and share lessons learned on how to maximize the effectiveness of our economic security toolkit in order to achieve that objective.

Second, with respect to addressing the climate crisis, since the last U.S.-EU summit we’ve both taken significant steps to address the climate crisis and build clean energy economies of the future.  We’re both agreed on a path ahead that includes bold public investments in our respective clean energy economies.  We’re committed to expanding research collaboration, igniting a clean industrial revolution, and with it good jobs that also make our industries more sustainable and competitive.  And – and I’ll come back to this in a moment – we’ve also made important progress on both a global steel and aluminum arrangement as well as the work that we are undertaking on a joint critical minerals agreement.

The third priority that I would lift up is supporting our developing country partners.  Both the U.S. and the EU are united in our commitment to advance reforms for better, bigger, and more effective multilateral development banks to address global challenges and to address countries’ core development needs.  That was something we pursued together at the G20, something that leaders committed to in Delhi.  On Friday, the leaders recommitted to those efforts, including, importantly, I would note, the President’s request in his supplemental to Congress last week to seek funding for the World Bank to make good on that better, bigger, and more effective formulation that U.S. and EU leaders are aligned behind.

Lastly, I would say you saw us reaffirm, just as we did at the G7 in Hiroshima, that we are united – the United States and the European Union – in our approach to China.  We are pursuing relations with China based on shared principles.  We stand prepared to build constructive and stable relations with China, recognizing the importance of engaging candidly with and expressing our concerns directly with China.  We agreed, as we did in Hiroshima, that we’re not decoupling from China, but do recognize that resilience requires de-risking and diversifying.

In that context, the leaders agreed that this means that we’ll invest in our own economic vibrancy.  We will reduce critical dependencies and vulnerabilities, including in our supply chains.  We will stand up for our core values, including with respect to economic security, protecting certain advanced technologies that could be used to threaten global peace and security.  We’ll address the challenges posed by non-market policies and practices, including those that would lead to an unlevel playing field between the United States, the European Union, and China for our workers, for our businesses.  These are the things, just as we did in Hiroshima, that the leaders re-underscored their commitment to and I think continue to highlight the degree of partnership and alignment between the United States and the EU on the shared principles that we approach China with.

Maybe if I could, before we go into Q&A, just talk a little bit about the global arrangement and the critical minerals agreement which I know have been on a number of your minds.  First, with respect to the global arrangement, I would say two years ago, the United States and the EU agreed to pursue an arrangement to address carbon intensity and global overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors.  In the last two years, we have made substantial progress in these talks and are committed to furthering that work to building off of that foundation of substantial progress in the months ahead.

What are some of the places where we’ve made progress?  Well, I’d say one, we’ve developed a shared understanding of the sources of excess capacity globally.  Two, I think identified together some of the best tools to address the market dislocations that result from those sources of excess capacity as well as the best tools to work toward emissions intensity in the steel and aluminum industry.  Importantly, we are agreed on the need for effective tariff protection to protect our industry and our workers and on the need to adopt measures to restrict trade of high emissions intensity steel and aluminum.  That’s a strong foundation to build on, a strong foundation that we’re going to advance our work from in the coming months.  

U.S.-EU collaboration is just critical to addressing global market distortions in the steel and aluminum sectors, to creating a level playing field for workers and industry on both sides of the Atlantic.  And for our part – and I – we remain committed to expanding on this collaboration and to working with other like minded partners to more effectively tackle these challenges looking ahead.

With respect to the critical minerals agreement and just – I think there, too, to take a step back, the U.S. and the EU agreed in March of this year, just seven months ago, to start negotiations on a targeted critical minerals agreement to strengthen our clean energy supply chains and to enable minerals extracted or processed in the EU to count toward requirements for clean vehicles under Section 30D of the Inflation Reduction Act and the clean vehicle tax credit there.

From the outset of these negotiations, we have been focused on deepening our clean energy partnership with the EU and expanding access to sources of critical minerals that are sustainable and trusted, that build clean energy supply chains free of labor abuses, and are reflective of the high labor standards, the high standards in general that both the U.S. and the EU reflect and stand by.

We are also committed to diversifying our critical supply chains to make them more secure.  Since the EU Commission received its mandate for the negotiations this summer, we have made considerable progress (inaudible) negotiations in each of these areas.  And here, including in close consultation with our respective stakeholders, we’re committed to continuing those negotiations in the weeks ahead.

So maybe I’ll pause there, but wanted to offer that perspective before we jump to the Q&A.

MODERATOR:  Thank you both for that, and I think you covered in detail a couple of the questions that were posed by the journalists.  We do have time for one, maybe two questions.  A couple have been submitted.  First, from Paul McLeary from Politico in the U.S.:  “Has there been any movement on the EU taking more of a role in financing military aid for Ukraine?  Were there any new commitments made?” 

MS SLOAT:  So I’m going to defer to the EU to speak for themselves in terms of any financing decisions.  But as I said at the top, President Biden has said, both publicly as well as conveyed privately during the meeting, his appreciation for everything that the European Union has done to support Ukraine, including everything that they did through the European Peace Facility, on the military assistance side, recognition of the significant burden that many European countries are bearing in terms of housing Ukrainians that have been displaced as a result of the conflict, as well as everything that the EU has done in terms of economic assistance to Ukraine as well. 

It was very clear in the joint statement as well as in the meeting that both the United States and the European Union have reaffirmed their strong commitment to continue supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes as they continue to defend themselves against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war of aggression. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And then time for one last quick one, although I know you’ve covered the global arrangement in quite a bit of detail.  But just more top level – Klaus Proempers from Germany asks: “Is compromise possible concerning tariffs on steel and aluminum between the United States and the EU?” 

MR PYLE:  So listen, we have made very significant progress, as I said, with our European partners on this issue over the last two years.  I described in my topper remarks all of the areas over which you’ve seen that progress made: developing a shared understanding of the sources of excess capacity, developing an understanding of the best tools to address the market dislocations that result, developing an understanding of the best tools to look at emissions intensity in the steel and aluminum industry, around agreed on the need for effective tariff protections to protect our industry and workers, and on the need to adopt measures to restrict trade of high-emissions-intensity steel and aluminum. 

That is a very strong foundation to build ongoing talks on.  And I would just say, listen, like, the days leading up to the summit were understandably consumed by the conflict in the Middle East.  That was the focus of our leaders’ attention.  That was the focus of the time they spent in the room together on Friday.  And we expect that in the weeks and months ahead, as we retrain our efforts, including at the leader level, on some of these priorities with that foundation, it’s going to be a foundation that we build off of to make further progress from here on these important shared priorities. 

MODERATOR:  Thanks very much for that.  And thank you both for joining us today.  Unfortunately, that is all the time that we have.  Shortly we will send the audio recording of the briefing to all the participating journalists and provide a transcript as soon as it is available.  We’d also love to hear your feedback; you can always email us at TheBrusselsHub – one word –

Mr. Pyle, Ms. Sloat, thanks so much for taking the time today.  We all appreciate it.  And we hope our audience can join us for another press briefing in the future.  This ends today’s briefing.

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U.S. Department of State

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