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Innovation and IPR at centre of transatlantic talks

Intellectual property rights (IPR) and innovation topped the agenda at the second informal US-EU economic ministerial meeting which took place on 9 November.

Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen and Finnish Minister for Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen met US Commerc...

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Intellectual property rights (IPR) and innovation topped the agenda at the second informal US-EU economic ministerial meeting which took place on 9 November.

Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen and Finnish Minister for Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen met US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman to review joint progress in the most significant areas of the transatlantic economy.

The meeting followed up on commitments made at the US-EU summit in June 2005 and confirmed at the June 2006 summit in Vienna, Austria. There both parties agreed on, among other initiatives, a joint strategy for the enforcement of IPR, focusing on issues such as piracy and counterfeiting.

Vice President Verheugen said that Europe and the US had a lot to gain from strengthening economic ties. 'The aim of strengthening growth and competitiveness, creating jobs and boosting productivity through innovation, lies at the heart of both the European economic agenda and of the transatlantic Economic Initiative,' he said.

Already the transatlantic couple boasts the deepest and largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world, encompassing some €600 billion of trade in goods and services each year and large flows of investment and providing employment to as many as 14 million people on both sides of the Atlantic.

However, this relationship could be jeopardised by cumbersome regulatory barriers and inadequate policies, EU and US officials warned. Only results-oriented policies in the areas of innovation - which includes protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights - and regulation would reduce bureaucracy and regulatory barriers to trade and investment, they argued.

Vice President Verheugen, Minister Pekkarinen and Secretary Gutierrez and Secretary Bodman agreed to specifically tackle the regulations that slow down economic growth, and to work more closely with emerging economies China and India to fight counterfeit and piracy and enforce intellectual property rights.

Both parties also agreed to collaborate on a limited number of research and innovation projects in the automobile sector, nanotechnologies and health-related industries.

The next EU-US Summit is due to take place in the first half of 2007.

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