Since taking up his post in 2010, João Vale de Almeida, EU Ambassador to the United States, made it his mission to travel to each of the 50 U.S. states to engage with Governors, Mayors, business leaders,universities and high-school students and the general public to explain the enduring importance of the transatlantic relationship.
On June 6, Ambassador Vale de Almeida completed his outreach visits in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“I believe it was my duty to at least try to visit all States as a sign of respect for the diversity and size of the United States. I am glad that I was able to achieve that goal”, Ambassador Vale de Almeida said.
His last official appointment was a D-Day meeting with veterans, where he commemorated those who served in the liberation of Europe in World War II. Thanking veterans and their families for the sacrifices involved, he paid tribute to their lasting contribution to European integration, and presented an EU flag to the Commander of American Legion Post No. 6.
During 2010-2012, most of the Ambassador’s visits to commercial and financial capitals across the U.S. dealt with the impact of the financial crisis and measures taken by the EU to secure the economic and financial management of the euro area. Since 2013, Ambassador Vale de Almeida has been mostly engaged in outreach to promote awareness of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership negotiations which got underway in July last year.
Reflecting recently on his impressions, he said he had learned a lot about the United States, and found that Europeans often underestimate America’s great regional diversity, dynamism, hard-wired optimism, pride in success, acceptance of risk/failure and belief in second-chances . Contrasts abound: gorgeous nature, wide open spaces, and magnificent national parks in some areas while in others challenges posed by historic inattention to urban planning (a lament among many mayors he met), environmental impacts, and a visible problem of ageing infrastructure highlighted by President Obama. Socially, having been in the US during the battles over implementation of the Affordable Care Act, it is clear that the US is still divided over providing levels of social protection found in most EU Member States. And yet, there are similarities. The extent to which Europe is present in the unlikeliest corners of this vast continent was a revelation: from fishing villages in New England and Alaska to the cities of American heartland and the Silicon and Central Valleys of California and beyond, European immigrants and their descendants contribute to the economic and social fabric of the United States, bringing with them their skills and traditions and renewing the ties between the US and Europe on a continual basis.
Follow Ambassador Vale de Almeida on Twitter: @ValedeAlmeidaEU .