Friday, November 21, 2003
In areas where it counts

This is an old report from the Guardian but it demonstrates the difficulties in reading British foreign policy as it oscillates between the British and European poles.

Energy security is an important issue for governments as medium-term projections demonstrate that dependence upon Middle Eastern oil can only increase. The United States has developed a strong debate upon this issue whereas Europe, with a crisis looming, does not address this serious issue in public.

The United Kingdom is moving towards a strategic partnership with the United States in order to maintain supplies of oil outside the Middle East.

The report to the president and prime minister was written in July by Don Evans, the American commerce secretary, and Spencer Abraham, the American energy secretary. It outlines how the American and British governments have woven together the "separate strands" of their countries' energy and foreign policies in a "frank sharing of strategic analysis and assessments".

The countries have agreed "a set of coordinated actions to help achieve our objectives" across the world.

The big British and American energy companies have been given favoured access to the discussions between the governments, taking part in meetings with officials.

This strategic initiative, known as the US-UK energy dialogue, will focus upon Africa and Central Asia. It is not clear if Britain is aligning itself with the United States because the European Union has not organised an alternative or because Blair has decided long-term strategy will acquire the possibility of greater success in partnership with the United States.

(21st November 2003, 19.07)


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