obama and joao

With the presentation of his credentials to President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony today, João Vale de Almeida formally became the new European Union Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to the United States.

In his Presentation of Credentials letter to the US President, Ambassador Vale de Almeida said he had witnessed President Obama’s commitment to a more effective transatlantic relationship on several occasions. “I fully share this ambition and will work towards making it a reality,” he said.

Ambassador Vale de Almeida will be the first EU Ambassador to the United States since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force on December 1, 2009. In this capacity, he represents European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, under the authority of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton. The Lisbon Treaty enhances the EU’s capacity to operate more effectively and act more cohesively in matters of foreign affairs and security.

In his letter, Ambassador Vale de Almeida stressed that he was enthusiastic about the continued evolution of the US-EU relationship which, in range and substance, has progressed dramatically over two decades from one largely centered around trade to a more all-encompassing relationship. “The emergence of new powers has led to predictions that transatlantic relations will be less important in the future, but this view overlooks the enormous stock we have vested in one another,” he said. “Our common values and shared goals are strengthened by our deeply interdependent economies and the longstanding ties between our peoples. They are also reflected in the trust and mutual confidence forged through many years of close cooperation between our administrations.”

Ambassador Vale de Almeida further noted that he will work with the United States to define a results-oriented agenda corresponding to the needs and expectations of our combined 800 million citizens and the challenges of the 21st century. “My ambition is to move beyond what exists today, to build a stronger and even more positive EU-US agenda with solid bilateral and global pillars. An agenda that unlocks the full potential of our economies, promotes joint action in foreign policy, and enhances our capacity as global partners.”

Ambassador Vale de Almeida is a Portuguese national. As Director General for External Relations, he served in the European Commission as the most senior official under the authority of High Representative Ashton. He helped formulate and execute the EU’s foreign policy and played a key role in creating the new European External Action Service (EEAS) introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. From 2004 to 2009, he was European Commission President Barroso’s Chief of Staff and his Personal G8/G20 representative (“Sherpa”).