Closing Remarks US/EU Meeting

Marilyn Fingerhut
San Francisco, November, 2000


On behalf of the US delegation, I'd like first to offer thanks to all who made the meeting possible. The organization of the meeting was stupendous. Pls join me in applauding Jackie de Mesmy Gray and her staff...


Have we had a successful conference? My esteemed colleague, Biosca has charged us to pursue vigorously research and other joint activities without delay. I wholeheartedly endorse these recommendations. Our followup actions will tell us whether our conference has been successful. However let me examine the question in another way, by referring back to the original calls of our conveners of two days ago and see where we are now...

On behalf of the governments, Davitt McAteer called for shared solutions and Herbert Martin for a transatlantic dialogue involving personal contacts... Surely, the lively discussions and the planned actions described by the workgroup reporters confirm that we have addressed these charges.

For labor, Frank Mirer said "our current best is not good enough" and Marc Sapir encouraged us to concentrate on specific topics. Surely our current best is still not enough, but the workgroup reporters have just assured us that there will be followup on specific topics...

On behalf of industry, Gerry Scannell urged us to set out tangible follow-ups, reminding us not to confuse activity with results. Felipe Manzano noted that we have similar problems on both sides of the Atlantic and encouraged us to see that our different approaches can be of value in designing solutions... We definitely understand that our approaches are different as the workgroups have struggled hard to see common threads, but they have done so successfully as they reached for tangible follow-ups.

Our Conference Leaders Charles Jeffress and John Richardson have provided us with scientific leadership with their comments here, and with great fun at dinner. Both stressed our common goals. Charles charged us to come to understand what works, a message echoed over and over in the workgroups and highlighted in the followup steps identified by the workgroup reporters.

John Richardson educated us on the European model, noting the value of the tripartite approach and the intent of upward harmonization for diverse countries. We Americans view with admiration and some envy the universality of the tripartite approach. Our conversations showed, however, that both sides of the Atlantic still share common problems, such as motivating small enterprises and designing useful occupational safety and health management systems.


So, in summary, we have followed the charges of our leaders during these two days. We have developed relationships and better understanding of the systems in our various countries. But now we need to answer the question of WHAT NEXT....


The workshop reporters have identified their achievements and some of the key followup steps. I'd like to note that the Joint EU/US website was a shining achievement from the first conference and that its use and enhancements truly will assist us in sharing information. WE NEED COMPARABLE ACHIEVEMENTS.

In his closing remarks on behalf of the European delegation, my colleague Biosca has identified viable mechanisms for followup activities... I join him in urging all of us to keep working...

Following on the the lead of our colleague, Luis Filipe Nascimento Lopes from Portugal, who pointed out in his after dinner remarks that we can mark time by the turnover of presidencies of the European Union, I would like to suggest a timetable for action: Before the French leave the leadership at the end of December, the Co-chairs should identify the concrete followup actions for the workgroup to be accomplished within two years. As each of the next presidencies changes every six months, a milestone for reporting can be assumed. Thus, in June and December of 2001 concrete progress could be reported on the web and by June 2002 concrete results should be reported at our next biannual conference. I hope that the Steering Committee will assist with some guidance and that the joint website will provide a communications focal point.


In conclusion, let me say thank you to everyone. You worked hard and successfully. Keep up the good work!