As expected, US President George W. Bush's last EU-US Summit on 10 June did not bring any major developments, mainly highlighting the importance of the two economic giants' continued cooperation on world affairs.
But President Bush surprised the audience during the press conference by responding to a question put to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa on the likelihood of a global deal on climate in the "coming years". "I don't want to preclude the prime minister's answer, (but) I think we can actually get an agreement on global climate change during my presidency, just so you know," he said.
The EU has been trying to get Washington to sign up to a binding pollution-cutting scheme for years. But, despite being one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, the US has long resisted any such initiative, notably refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
Bush did not give any details as to how he would achieve a deal before he leaves office on 20 January 2009 but said the US had a "strategy that we think will be effective at addressing global climate change".
He nevertheless warned that a deal would not be possible without China and India at the table. The joint declaration issued after the meeting also limited itself to a vaguely-worded statement in which EU and US leaders vowed to secure an agreement "by the end of 2009".
The two sides also urgently called for progress in the Doha negotiations for a world trade deal. "We call on all WTO members to make meaningful contributions that are necessary to advance the negotiations, achieve a breakthrough on modalities in the next few weeks, and conclude an agreement as a matter of urgency," the joint statement reads.
But the two sides have been at odds for years over who should make the largest cuts in agricultural tariffs and subsidies and are now laying the responsibility on emerging economies, such as Brazil, India and China, to further open up their markets before committing to anything themselves.
Negotiators from a dozen WTO countries began a new phase of discussions in Geneva on 9 June to try to overcome the remaining differences on lowering barriers to industrial goods. If they find common ground, the WTO could summon ministers in late June or early July to agree on the outlines of a final deal.
"It's not going to be easy but it's in our judgement necessary," said Bush, adding: "It's really important to defeat the forces of protectionism now."
The Summit Declaration also contains a US commitment "to expand its Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) to all EU Member States as soon as possible, including bringing additional EU Member States into the VWP this year". It also takes a hard line with respect to Iran, threatening it with further sanctions if it fails to suspend its nuclear enrichment programme.