US embassy cable - 04MADRID484

SPANISH PRESIDENT'S ECONOMIC ADVISOR COMMENTS ON AZNAR TRADE INITIATIVE

Identifier: 04MADRID484
Wikileaks: View 04MADRID484 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Madrid
Created: 2004-02-12 12:54:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: ETRD ECON PREL SP EUN European Union Trade Issues
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 000484 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT PASS TO USTR NOVELLI AND SANFORD 
PLEASE PASS TO EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE AND EU CANDIDATE 
COLLECTIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/11/2013 
TAGS: ETRD, ECON, PREL, SP, EUN, European Union, Trade Issues 
SUBJECT: SPANISH PRESIDENT'S ECONOMIC ADVISOR COMMENTS ON 
AZNAR TRADE INITIATIVE 
 
REF: A) MADRID 188 B)MADRID 181 
 
Classified By: ECONOMIC COUNSELOR JUDY GARBER, REASON 1.5 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (SBU) On February 11 we spoke with Roman Escolano, 
Economic Advisor to Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar to get 
an update (since reftels A and B) on where Aznar's initiative 
for barrier-free transatlantic trade is going.  Escolano 
confessed that the GOS is in an anomalous situation -- a 
month ago Aznar launched his idea, but less than two months 
from now Aznar's administration will be history.  While it is 
almost a given that Aznar's party, the Popular Party, will 
win the elections, this administration is not in a position 
to make promises for the next government.  Escolano said the 
GOS would be satisfied if they could just plant the seed at 
the March Council of Europe and wait for the next Commission 
and enlarged EU to actually work on the idea. 
 
2. (C) Escolano confessed that he was expecting a very 
hostile reaction from the Commission and some Member States 
following Aznar's January 2004 speech to the U.S. Chamber of 
Commerce.  Instead, he was pleasantly surprised that a 
"majority" of Member States and EU External Relations 
Commissioner Chris Patten were supportive.  Even EU Trade 
Commissioner Pascal Lamy was only mildly hostile.  The 
Germans and French have said nothing directly to the Spanish, 
which Escolano interprets as a good sign.  On the other hand, 
the UK, who the Spanish were counting on for support since 
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown had 
suggested a similar initiative, had not been as forthcoming 
as expected.  He also told us that they had not received a 
response to their letter explaining the initiative from EU 
President Romano Prodi, but had really not been expecting 
one.  They understand he is contemplating his own future and 
won't likely be interested in new initiatives at this stage. 
The Spanish hope that there will be enough Member State 
support to put the Aznar Initiative on the March Council 
agenda.  The Irish Presidency is open to doing so provided it 
has some signal of support from the larger Member States. 
 
3.  (SBU) Also important, Escolano said, are the missing 
words of support from high-level USG officials.  We replied 
that Washington has looked at the idea with interest, and 
that Commerce Secretary Evans had discussed it 
enthusiastically in Davos, however the USG was looking for 
more details.  Escolano said that providing details up front 
would be a mistake since it would focus opposition.  With the 
U.S., Spain, other Member States and the Commission all 
looking at elections and changes, the time was wrong for 
fleshing out Aznar's initial vision.  The GOS feels the 
details should come after there is support for the concept in 
general. 
 
4. (C) Escolano said the GOS also would be watching closely 
to see if the issue is discussed at the British-German-French 
Tripartite Meeting on February 18, and if such a discussion 
results in an endorsement (or rejection) of the idea.  He 
said the meeting could be key to the future viability of the 
initiative as he is concerned that the lukewarm response from 
the UK might be a signal that the UK is willing to sacrifice 
its traditional support for a broad transatlantic economic 
area to achieve other objectives.  The Tripartite Meeting was 
clearly a sore point for Escolano.  Whereas last year, he 
said, the Tripartite Meeting could be easily understood by 
other member states as necessary to mend rifts that arose 
during the run-up to the war in Iraq.  But now, Italy and 
Spain are watching with caution as the get-together is taking 
on all the trappings of a permanent meeting.  Escolano 
described it as an alliance against the nature of the EU, 
against the idea that all Member States, no matter how small, 
have a role.   He lamented that the EU risked becoming an 
institution in which the only constant would be the ongoing 
fight over its budget. 
 
5. (C) COMMENT: It was evident from our discussion that 
Escolano realizes that the timing of the Aznar Initiative is 
far from perfect, both in terms of the GOS ability to 
follow-up and of Commission interest to engage.  For better 
or worse, Aznar put this idea on the table and his staff will 
try to secure the momentum and support to keep it alive for 
the next Spanish government and Commission.  The initiative's 
inclusion on the March Council agenda will likely be key to 
keeping the chatter surrounding the initiative alive. 
MANZANARES 

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