Monday

21st May 2018

EU-US trade talks imminent, as commission agrees mandate

  • US trade talks - a silver bullet for the EU economy? (Photo: wikipedia)

The European Commission has agreed its negotiating mandate for an EU-US trade deal, paving the way for talks to begin before the summer break.

Speaking on Tuesday (12 March), trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, who will lead the EU's negotiating team, told reporters in Strasbourg that both he and his US counterparts were aiming for a quick agreement on "one tank of gas."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He said that a deal could be concluded before the 2014 European elections next June, a timing which would also coincide with the next round of US mid-term Congressional elections.

The US is keen for negotiations to begin. At a meeting of his export council on Tuesday (12 March), President Barack Obama said that trade talks with the EU and 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region were at the heart of the economic strategy for his second term.

For his part, EU commission President Jose Manuel Barroso described the talks, aimed at agreeing the world's largest single bilateral trade deal, as a "game changer" for transatlantic relations and world trade.

The commission's negotiating team is anxious for talks to go beyond eliminating traditional tariff barriers.

De Gucht commented that while he would "work to remove remaining tariffs … we really need to deal with behind the borders trade barriers." This is likely to include harmonised regulations on products and services.

He also insisted that "persistent concerns" that a trade deal could lead to EU legislation on GMOs being re-written were wide of the mark.

However, the commissioner refused to be drawn on the specifics of the EU's stance, commenting that "you cannot negotiate with an open book."

He added that while the commission would keep governments and MEPs informed on the "direction" of talks, documents related to the negotiations would not be made public.

Irish trade minister Richard Bruton, who will now set about persuading member states to sign off on the EU's negotiating stance, described it as a "significant step on the road to a new EU-US trade and investment partnership. He added that he was "confident that real progress can be achieved during the remaining months of the Irish presidency.”

Meanwhile, the EU executive also released a paper by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), a London-based think tank, indicating that a US trade deal could be worth up to €119 billion per year to the EU economy, translating into €545 per year for the average family of four.

That said, failure to go beyond agreement on tariff barriers would lead to economic gains of no more than €23.7 billion, according to the CEPR. Liberalising the services market and public procurement rules would be worth an additional €5.3 billion and €6.4 billion.

The CEPR report also claims that 80 percent of the total gains from a trade deal could come from cutting bureaucratic costs and red tape.

Europe's car manufacturers, which include BMW, Renault and Mercedes Benz could be the biggest winners from a trade deal.

The CEPR estimates a 149 per cent increase in car exports to the US due, in large part, to two-way trade in car parts and components. The metal, chemical and food industries would also be major beneficiaries.

2015 target date for EU-US trade deal

EU and US negotiators want to have a transatlantic trade and investment deal in place by 2015, but French politicians are wary of the pact.

Analysis

What chance an EU-US trade deal?

The relationship between the US and Europe has historically been about diplomacy. But in these economically-straitened times, the focus on foreign policy has shifted.

France threatens US trade veto over culture

The French government has dismissed as "naive" suggestions that a transatlantic trade deal with the US could substantially benefit the EU economy and take it out of crisis.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

News in Brief

  1. Trump warns Nato allies' low budgets will be 'dealt with'
  2. Only Estonia, Greece and UK hit Nato spending target
  3. EU to start process to counter US Iran sanctions
  4. Macedonia PM sees 'possible solutions' in Greek name row
  5. EU takes six countries to court over air pollution
  6. New Catalan leader sworn in without reference to Spain
  7. Merkel and Putin revive dialogue in troubled times
  8. European companies putting Iran business on hold

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  2. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  3. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK
  4. Integration of Syrian refugees in Europe needs scrutiny
  5. Bulgarian PM: No asylum reform without stronger border
  6. Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline
  7. Italian populists to defy EU debt rules
  8. Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures