The Bush Administration on Thursday hosted the second informal U.S.-EU economic ministerial meeting to discuss transatlantic economic integration and shared economic challenges.Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez and Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman met with European Union (EU) Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen and Finnish Minister for Trade and Industry Mauri Pekkarinen to review joint progress in the most significant areas of the transatlantic economy, including innovation, intellectual property rights (IPR), regulatory cooperation, and energy security. Following the adoption of a joint strategy to fight soaring global illegal trade in counterfeit and pirate goods, U.S. and EU experts are working closely together to protect Intellectual Property Rights. The teams are working to improve border enforcement cooperation, help the private sector to enforce their rights, and help third countries such as China and India fight counterfeiting and piracy. Gutierrez, Bodman, Verheugen, and Pekkarinen also agreed to strengthen efforts to remove regulatory barriers to trade and investment. The parties will explore a limited number of projects including in the automobile sector. The participants also welcomed the progress made under the transatlantic Innovation Initiative, and agreed to support innovation in areas such as health-related industries, nanotechnology and automotives. Participants further discussed a range of other critical economic issues, including the challenges of the global energy market and the Doha Development Agenda negotiations. The U.S.-EU relationship is the deepest and largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world. It encompasses $756 billion of trade in goods and services each year, large flows of investment, and provides employment to as many as 14 million people on both sides of the Atlantic.