Thursday

27th Jul 2017

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 and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  2. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  3. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  5. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  6. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  7. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  9. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  10. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  11. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  12. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug

Latest News

  1. Corbyn re-opens Labour's single market wound
  2. Visegrad lobby makes food quality an EU issue
  3. EU court could dismiss national borders in cyberspace
  4. Confusion swirls around Macron's Libya 'hotspots'
  5. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  6. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  7. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  8. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis