Saturday

24th Feb 2018

EU-US trade talks to start after France wins culture clause

  • Port of New York: the trade talks are to be launched at next week's G8 summit (Photo: Niklas-B)

Talks on a landmark US-EU trade deal have been given the green light after EU trade ministers agreed on the bloc's negotiating mandate on Friday night (14 June).

The agreement, which was reached after more than 12 hours of talks in Luxembourg, paves the way for EU leaders and US President Barack Obama to officially launch the talks at next week's G8 summit in Northern Ireland.

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.

As expected, the main stumbling block was the French government's insistence that it would veto agreement unless its subsidised film and television sector was excluded from the scope of the mandate. However, under a carefully phrased compromise, the cultural sector has been excluded from the initial mandate when EU officials open negotiations with their US counterparts, but could be put back in as talks progress.

Although paragraph 21 of the mandate makes clear that the audiovisual sector will not be in the mandate, a new paragraph has been included stating that the commission "may make recommendations to the council on possible additional negotiating directives on any issue, with the same procedures for adoption, including voting rules, as for this mandate.”

"We are satisfied, but I don't want to call it a victory," said French trade minister Nicole Bricq to reporters following the meeting. She added that the exemption was "written clearly in black and white."

Earlier Bricq had stood her ground during the plenary session. France would "reject all mandates that fail to protect cultural services,” she said.

Speaking at his own press conference following the meeting, trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, the EU's said "98 percent of the mandate was adopted without any further discussion and there was only discussion on the audiovisual sector."

"I can live with this", he said, in a reference to the compromise, while also insisting that "this is not a carve out".

"It will be discussed with the US….and if need be, we will come back to the council for a mandate on this specific issue," de Gucht added.

Although EU officials have been keen to ensure that no sectors are taken off the table, the US is expected to rule out financial services from the talks. Public procurement rules and standards relating to the pharmaceutical industry are also likely to be among the issues toughest to resolve.

The commission estimates that an EU-US trade deal going beyond conventional tariff barriers and harmonising standards on goods and services would be worth €100 billion per year, equivalent to an additional 0.5 percent of EU GDP. However, failure to go beyond tariffs would reduce the economic benefits to under €25 billion, according to the EU executive.

The average time frame for EU free trade agreements is three years, but de Gucht believes that a deal could be reached by end of his mandate in summer 2014. One EU diplomat told this website that the Commission was planning "a very swift process by the standard of FTAs (free trade agreements)".

Meanwhile, Irish minister John Bruton, who chaired the session, noted that "a lot of groundwork has been done to hope that rapid progress can be made. There is clearly an ambition on the US side to have a rapid conclusion."

For his part, UK business secretary Vince Cable, whose Prime Minister David Cameron will chair next week's summit, said that the talks would “fulfil an aim of this year’s G8."

“Achieving an agreement is in all our interests and would deliver a much needed boost to the economies of all involved. It’s a win-win prospect on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Cable.

Opinion

EU-US trade - the value of shared values

The EU and the US will soon be launching negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and lnvestment Partnership, one of the most ambitious bilateral initiatives in the world to create jobs and growth through trade and investment.

Opinion

Greek government's steady steps to exit bailout programme

Growth predictions are positive, exports increasing, unemployment dropping and credit-ratings up, says the head of Greece's Syriza delegation to the European Parliament. Now the government in Athens is looking to design its own reform programme.

Analysis

We are not (yet) one people

Talks on the next EU budget will start on Friday. Brussels wants to do much more than before – and needs a lot more money. But arguing about funds won't be enough.

News in Brief

  1. EU calls for immediate ceasefire in Syria
  2. UK's post-Brexit vision is 'pure illusion', Tusk says
  3. EU leaders express solidarity with Cyprus in Turkey drill row
  4. EU to double funding for Sahel forces
  5. EU parliament president: 'The immigration problem is Africa'
  6. May to unveil EU departure strategy next week
  7. Pregnant workers may be dismissed, EU court rules
  8. Romanian minister demands anti-corruption prosecutor fired

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeAnkara Ban on LGBTI Events Continues as Turkish Courts Reject NGO Appeals
  2. Aid & Trade LondonJoin Thousands of Stakeholders of the Global Aid Industry at Aid & Trade London
  3. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.European Free Alliance Joins MHRMI to End the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  5. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  6. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  8. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  9. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  11. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  12. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name

Latest News

  1. EU agrees budget to focus on defence, security and migration
  2. EU leaders nix transnational lists, cool on 'Spitzenkandidat'
  3. Regions chief: calls for smaller EU budget are 'impossible'
  4. Election fever picks up This WEEK
  5. EU-Morocco fishing deal casts doubt on EU future foreign policy
  6. EU leaders put 'Spitzenkandidat' on summit menu
  7. European far-right political party risks collapse
  8. The key budget issues on EU leaders' table

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?