Carl Bildt, the former prime minister of Sweden who played a key role in his country’s entry into the European Union (EU), told GLOBALFAX and other news organizations during a special telephone press conference from Washington, D.C. that he admires efforts by the U.S. Congress to contain the federal budget deficit and that European countries should do the same.

Speaking in a telephone conference Thursday. May 4, arranged jointly by the European Commission’s Washington Delegation and the Center for War, Peace and the News Media. Mr. Bildt also said he anticipates that the EU would grow from its current 15 to 25 members within at least 10 years.

Mr. Bildt arrived in the U.S. Tuesday, May 2, for a six-city tour including Atlanta where he will speak at a luncheon Thursday, May 11, at the 103 West restaurant. The event will be hosted locally by the Southern Center for international Studies(SCIS) and sponsored by Tetra Pak Americas Inc. and Thomas Concrete Inc.

At 7 p.m. that evening, Mr. Bildt will discuss EU’s impact on world trade and other issues in a presentation entitled, The European Union: A Powerhouse under Construction, This lecture, which will be free and open to the public, is to be held at Emory University in White Hall.

Mr. Bildt, who now leads the Moderate Party in Sweden’s Parliament, said that the expansion of the EU became necessary with the demise of the Soviet Union, and that it was important for a process of gradual alignment of the Central and Eastern European economies to the EU proceed.

I know this from Sweden’s experience, he said referring to the country’s formal admission to the EU in January. Sweden began aligning its agricultural policies to those of the EU in the 1960s and its free trade policies in the 1970s, he said.

Mr. Bildt portrayed Europe as experiencing social pressures from high unemployment, burgeoning deficits and immigration problems, despite its slow growth.  However, he said that its economy is strong.

Economic development in the Asia Pacific remains impressive, he said, but because of its size the European market grows by more than $120 billion every year. That is the size of Taiwan’s economy and that doesn’t take into account the positive multiplier effects that growth has.

European governments, however, must curb their deficits in an effort to reduce high interest rates and improve employment, he added.

For more information about Mr. Bildt’s visit to Atlanta, call the Georgia Council for international Visitors (CCIV) at (404) 873-6170, fax (404) 873-5806 or SCIS at (404) 261-5763, fax (404) 261-0849.