LYNN NEARY, host:
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. Scott Simon is away. I'm Lynn Neary. Representatives of the Group of 20, the world's top 20 developed and emerging nations, are in Washington, D.C., today for an economic summit hosted by President Bush. Ambassador John Bruton is among the leaders who will be discussing the global financial crisis. Ambassador Bruton leads the delegation of the European Commission to the United States and is here with us in the studio. Welcome, Ambassador. Good to have you with us.
Ambassador JOHN BRUTON (European Union Ambassador to the United States): Good morning.
NEARY: So the need for a global solution to the economic crisis is urgent. And as you noted earlier this week, the world is looking to the United States for leadership. Can the G-20 really afford to wait for President-elect Obama to be sworn in before really addressing these issues?
Ambassador BRUTON: The first thing to say is that President-elect Obama has been very supportive of President Bush's initiative in calling this meeting. So I think we can assume that while he will not necessarily be committed to every detail of the outcome, he's very committed to the process that President Bush has set under way. Clearly, the problem we face in the world today is a breakdown of trust between banks, and that credit gridlock has led to a sharp downturn in the economy. And that recognizes the fact that banks nowadays don't just operate in one country. Successful banks operate in three or four different countries, but their accounts are only supervised in one country, the one of which they are native. And that, of course, leads to problems.
NEARY: Now, what role do you see countries like China and India - what role will they be playing in coming up with an ultimate solution to these global financial issues?
Ambassador BRUTON: China and India are the countries that have tremendous further capacity to grow. They have basic needs that are not being met for the people in their daily lives, which - the provision of which will generate demand for goods produced elsewhere. We also, of course, need them to continue to grow without destroying the environment. So we need to have, therefore, an economic stimulus package for those countries and for our own countries that is both financially sustainable and environmentally sustainable.
NEARY: Now, British Prime Minister Brown said that the world economy could double in 10 years. Do you agree with that? And how would that happen?
Ambassador BRUTON: What Prime Minister Brown has said is quite attainable, but obviously, in the short run, we've got to - that's where we might be in 10 years. But we've got to get through the next year and a half. And the next year and a half could be quite a difficult period unless we can quickly restore confidence in the financial system. So getting credit flowing, getting, if you like, the blood flowing is going to be a crucial part of what I expect will be the outcome of the process that's being started.
NEARY: What are your expectations for the summit this weekend? Can anything really concrete come out of it at this point?
Ambassador BRUTON: What I would expect we will see coming from the summit would be a declaration in favor of coordinated work to improve supervision of financial institutions. I would hope that we will see also statements in favor of completing quickly the new trade round. So, that will act as a guarantor against a reversion towards subsidy or trade wars, which are a possible risk.
NEARY: And then does the summit reconvene then after the new president is inaugurated in January?
Ambassador BRUTON: Well, one possibility that's being canvassed by the president of France was that there could be another meeting of this group.
NEARY: And at this point in time, is it the European nations who will be the leaders of this?
Ambassador BRUTON: I wouldn't think that we should take on that role. The reality of the matter is that this is a problem for everybody. I think we're hoping at least to see joint leadership on this issue with no competition for the credit, but maximum competition to make the maximum contribution.
NEARY: European Union Ambassador John Bruton is head of the delegation of the European Commission to the United States. Thanks so much for joining us.
Ambassador BRUTON: Thank you.
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