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John Bruton, European Union ambassador to the United States and former prime minister of Ireland, will speak to both houses of the Wyoming State Legislature in Cheyenne and to University of Wyoming audiences Thursday, Feb. 28, and will continue with events at UW Friday, Feb. 29.
He will speak to the members of the House of Representatives at 10:10 a.m. and to members of the Senate at 10:25 a.m. in their respective Capitol chambers.
At 2:30 p.m., Ambassador Bruton will deliver the keynote talk, "Strengthening U.S.-EU Relations: National and Local Approaches," in the UW Union ballroom. The talk will inaugurate the university's new academic minor in European studies that will be offered to students beginning this summer.
At 3 p.m., in the Union Family Room, he will join UW faculty members and others in a round-table discussion on "National Approaches to Strengthening U.S.-EU Relations."
Friday, Feb. 29, at 11:30 a.m., he will participate with regional faculty members and selected UW administrators in a second round-table discussion, "Local Approaches to Strengthening U.S.-EU Relations," in the Garden Ballroom at the new Hilton Garden Inn/UW Conference Center at 22nd and Grand in Laramie. His keynote talks and both round-table discussions are open to the public.
As ambassador of the world's largest economic bloc, Bruton is charged with raising the EU's profile in the United States. He consistently stresses the economic importance of maintaining strong ties between the two economies. When goods and services are combined, the EU and the United States comprise the world's largest bilateral trade relationship, accounting for about two fifths of the world's trade and 57 percent of Gross Domestic Product.
In a recent talk, he noted, "At a time when America's attention is increasingly turning toward Asia, it is important to keep in mind that the $4 trillion economic relationship between the European Union and the United States is the largest, most profitable, most integrated and longest lasting in the history of humankind. It is also the most important driver of global economic growth, trade and prosperity."
This relationship has a strong influence on Wyoming's economy, says Stephanie Anderson, assistant professor in UW's Department of Political Science. She says in 2002, the then 15 EU nations were the largest foreign direct investors in Wyoming, supporting 5,500 jobs in the state. In 2003, Wyoming exported $63 million worth of products to the EU, with chemicals comprising the majority of goods exported.
Anne Alexander, director of international programs, says UW has established strong academic ties with EU member nations. An average of more than 50 students from 19 of the 27 EU countries have enrolled at UW since 2002, with the largest contingents from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Romania and the Netherlands.