The trans-Atlantic relationship has been crucial to the stability and prosperity of both Europe and the US over the past 50 years. We share the same belief in democracy, the rule of law, fundamental rights and open trade between nations. These are values that have forged an enduring partnership, which continues to be a stabilising and positive force in the world.
During Ireland's recent Presidency of the EU, we emphasised the importance of renewing the trans-Atlantic relationship after the divisions experienced last year over Iraq. This approach culminated in the successful EU-US summit in Dromoland Castle in June this year which demonstrated the continuing strength and depth of the transatlantic partnership. The EU and the US adopted seven important joint declarations addressing many of the key challenges that face the world today including on Iraq, as well as on counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, the fight against HIV/AIDS, Sudan, and partnership with countries in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This outcome has contributed significantly to a renewed trans-Atlantic consensus on the approach to adopt on a number of global issues. The US ambassador to Ireland, Mr. James Kenny, commented recently that the State Department rated the summit as probably the best in the last 15 years.
Obviously, an important feature of an open and mature friendship is the ability to discuss matters of difference. This is an important element of the EU-US relationship. It will be evident from the press conference given by the Taoiseach and President Bush at Dromoland following the summit that differences were raised during their meeting.
A strong partnership between the EU and the US is vital if we are to find durable solutions to the many global challenges facing us, despite the differences between the US and European approaches on some issues. Both bilaterally and within the EU, we will continue to engage with the US to build a more productive transatlantic relationship. In that context, I reiterate the Government's welcome of the appointment of former Taoiseach, Deputy John Bruton, as ambassador and head of the European Commission's delegation to the United States. I am confident he will make an important contribution to relations between the EU and the US in the future.