Friday

30th Sep 2022

2015 target date for EU-US trade deal

  • De Gucht: 'More paramount than speed is achieving an ambitious deal' (Photo: Wikipedia)

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.

Hours after US President Barack Obama unveiled plans for talks aimed at a bilateral pact worth up to €86 billion per year, EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday (13 February): "We'd like to complete this work in about two years from now."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

De Gucht, who will lead the EU's negotiating team, noted that "more paramount than speed is achieving an ambitious deal," however.

For his part, commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said "a future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a game-changer."

He added that "it's a boost to our economies that does not cost a cent."

A joint EU-US statement said that talks would "contribute to the development of global rules that can strengthen the multilateral trading system."

The EU and US already account for 47 percent of the world's GDP and one third of global trade flows, according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with €2 billion of goods and services traded bilaterally every day.

A flavour of what the two sides want to achieve is spelt out in the final report of the EU-US so-called High Level Working Group, published on Monday (11 February).

The first goal of the group, led by De Gucht and US trade representative Ron Kirk, is to "eliminate all duties on bilateral trade" and to liberalise the services sector. Average tariffs are currently worth 5.2 percent for the EU and 3.5 percent for the US.

The deal is likely to go beyond eliminating tariff barriers.

The working group said there is also a need to tackle "behind-the-border" obstacles to trade through "harmonization of future regulations, and....mutual recognition" of technical standards.

De Gucht estimated that differing standards and regulations are currently "equivalent to slapping a traditional tariff on a product of between 10 and 20 percent."

The two sides are keen to fill a void left by the collapse of the Doha round of talks at WTO-level in 2008.

One priority is to agree standards on intellectual property rights and environmental and employment protection.

Both sides need the approval of domestic legislators before the start of formal talks.

The EU needs the backing of all 27 national assemblies.

French trade minister Nicole Bricq on Wednesday (13 February) warned that the governing Socialist party would only support a deal that "respects our values, Europe's cultural vision, our agricultural model and which will facilitate progress in ecological and energy matters."

France - which shot down previous attempts to agree an EU-US trade accord in 1998 - will decide whether to back the talks on 1 March, Bricq noted.

The final agreement will also have to be ratified by EU member states and by a final vote of consent by MEPs in the European Parliament.

Last year, MEPs used new powers by vetoing the global anti-counterfeit treaty Acta - the first time that euro-deputies rejected an international pact negotiated by the EU executive.

EU edges toward Canada free trade deal

EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht will meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as the EU executive steps up its bid to secure the latest in a series of lucrative free trade agreements.

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.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. EU agrees windfall energy firm tax — but split on gas-price cap
  2. Ukrainian chess prodigy: 'we are not going to resign...anywhere'
  3. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  4. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  5. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  6. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  7. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other
  8. Deregulation of new GMO crops: science or business?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us