After three days of pouring rain, the sun finally came out in a green and spring-like Washington where I have spent some days now this week.
We have a well-established cooperation with the US on many issues. My main cooperation partners, Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, remain in the new Obama administration which creates a clear continuity.
The discussions with them here in Washington are of course characterized by the atrocious act of terror in Boston, and the following investigations. We also spoke about the work that the US is doing to prevent radicalisation and violent extremism. I shared information about our RAN network, which was established 18 months ago and which gathers local actors, researchers, volunteer organisations, police, teachers, etc. from across the EU. The purpose of the network is to exchange thoughts and experiences on radicalisation and violent extremism, exit strategies, the role of the Internet, etc.
We also spoke about cyber-crime, our common work to fight sexual abuse of children online, and the planned migration reform in the US. It is interesting to compare the debate on migration here, versus the debate in Europe. Here in the US, there is a growing political consensus on the notion that migration is necessary, and that it is mainly something positive for the US. In Europe, where we despite high levels of unemployment will need labour migration, it is instead largely seen as a problem.
Other meetings have revolved around trafficking, cooperation before the UN’s conference on migration and development in the autumn, and quite a lot on cyber-crime. An important part of the visit has also been my meetings with people outside of the administration. I had an interesting discussion with students and researchers at Georgetown University, where we discussed migration and asylum issues. At the University of Washington, I participated in a panel debate on cyber-crime where I, among other things, presented the EU Cyber Security Strategy.
Everyone here is also very positive as regards the coming negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EU and the US. It would be of great importance to reach such an agreement.