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Obama is attending a summit meeting of the EU and the US today in Brussels. In his prepared remarks he plans to use the international security crisis generated by the situation in Ukraine as a justification for fast tracking the Transatlantic Trade Agreement.

Obama To Highlight Trans-Atlantic Ties Amid Crimea Crisis

President Barack Obama is expected to reinforce U.S.-EU opposition to Russia's annexation of Crimea and push for speeding up trade talks with the European Union.
This is consistent with an earlier statement made by Michael Froman, US Trade Representative.
Russia's annexation of Crimea underlines the need for the United States and the European Union to deepen their economic ties via an ambitious trade deal that would also allow Europe to import U.S. gas, Washington's top trade official said on Saturday.

Days before U.S. President Barack Obama and EU officials hold a summit in Brussels, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the rationale "could never be stronger" for a U.S.-EU free-trade pact, despite growing public hostility to it.

"Right now, as we look around the world, there is a powerful reason for Europe and the United States to come together to demonstrate that they can take their relationship to a new level," Froman told reporters.

Obama characterizes Russia as a mere regional power that is posing a threat to the system of global stability that has been devised by the US and the EU. This is his strongest push yet to persuade the EU to operate in concert with US policy. He also has a domestic political agenda in countering the statement by Mitt Romney that Russia should be regarded as the US's principal enemy.

The Transatlantic Trade Agreement is the companion piece to the Trans Pacific Partnership. The negotiations for both treaties have been shrouded in secrecy. The TPP has become a matter of controversy. One of its agendas seems to be to isolate the influence of China in the Pacific region. The claims now being made about the purpose of the TTA would seem to embody a similar approach. Leaked information about the proposed agreements is that they go beyond the provisions that would be expected in a trade agreement to establish systems of international arbitration with the power to override national laws. It is becoming clearer that these are in reality new forms of security treaties rather than trade agreements.

The Obama administration has been seeking congressional authorization for fast track authority in concluding the TPP. That means that congress surrenders its power to hold public debate on the details and demand amendments to the provisions before ratification. If the state of the world is such as to require fundamental revisions to the system of international security, it would seem reasonable to expect that in nations governed by democratic systems there would be open and public debate before pushing such sweeping arrangements through. Obama's approach seems to be based on the notion that it would be a shame to let a good crisis go to waste.    

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