Thursday

7th Jul 2022

'Scaremongering' threatens trade deal, US ambassador warns MEPs

  • Gardner was making his first appearance in the Parliament since his appointment as President Obama’s man in Brussels in Februar (Photo: Casa de América)

A landmark EU-US trade deal is under threat due to “scaremongering”, the US ambassador to Brussels has warned MEPs.

In a combative debate with deputies on the European Parliament's international trade committee on Wednesday (3 September), Anthony Gardner said that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) had “triggered a wave of criticism that can only be described as scaremongering”.

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

Gardner was making his first appearance in the parliament since his appointment as President Obama’s man in Brussels in February.

EU and US trade negotiators have now been working for over a year on a trade deal which the European Commission claims could be worth 0.5 percent of extra GDP to the bloc.

The talks were “the single most important economic issue” facing lawmakers and was the “biggest debt free stimulus available,” Gardner claimed.

He added that TTIP, which could sit alongside a Trans-Pacific partnership trade deal that the US is currently negotiating with twelve countries including Japan, South Korea and Malaysia, was an “opportunity to set a standard for regional trade deals”.

“If we fail, other countries who do not share our standards ..... and whose weight in the international trading system is growing fast will set those standards for us”.

“Do not prejudge the results, wait until we have advanced texts before you make up your mind”.

But although the talks enjoy the support of EU governments and good will from the Parliament’s largest political groups, claims that the treaty could reduce food safety standards and make it easier for multinationals to sue governments have dominated media coverage in Europe.

The latter issue, known as investor state dispute settlement (ISDS), has prompted the German government and some EU lawmakers to argue that it should be left out of TTIP.

For his part, Gardner said that an ISDS regime would include provisions to prevent “frivolous claims”. “I am happy to sit down with anyone in this room to discuss this mechanism,” he added.

In response, David Martin, spokesman for the centre-left Socialist and Democrat (S&D)group, insisted that the presence of ISDS clauses in other existing trade agreements had “clearly enhanced corporate power,” and had “cost governments a lot of money,” he said.

The 191-member S&D group, the Parliament’s second largest grouping, has indicated that it will not support a TTIP agreement which includes ISDS.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Austrian newspaper Der Standard last week, Pascal Lamy, a former EU trade commissioner and head of the World Trade Organisation, said that an ISDS clause was “not necessary” and “could be excluded”.

This is important when a company from Europe or the United States invests in a small developing country, he said, adding that "the question is whether we need it between the EU, and the United States and Canada."

MEPs will ultimately decide on TTIP’s fate if EU and US trade negotiators conclude an agreement, expected before the end of 2015.

Both Houses of the US Congress will also have to back the treaty for it to enter into force, with US officials insisting that both Democrats and Republicans continue to support TTIP.

After six rounds of negotiations, officials are now working from five consolidated texts and are set to exchange new offers on scrapping the remaining tariffs on goods later this autumn.

The next round of talks will take place in Washington DC next month.

Analysis

From trade tariffs to trust – TTIP a year on

When political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic gave negotiators the green light to start talks on a Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), it was widely seen as an economic 'win-win' - a debt free economic stimulus.

Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response

The increasingly sharp debate over the rising cost of living exploded in European Parliament, with lawmakers from all stripes, liberal, left, green and conservative, calling on the EU to act.

Column

'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements

Some modest headway in recognising the unrelenting tide of discrimination and violence facing women worldwide was made at last week's largely self-congratulatory and mostly irrelevant G7 talk-fest. But no one mentioned abortion, just days after the Roe vs Wade decision.

News in Brief

  1. France to nationalise nuclear operator amid energy crisis
  2. Instant legal challenge after ok for 'green' gas and nuclear
  3. Alleged Copenhagen shooter tried calling helpline
  4. Socialist leader urges Czech PM to ratify Istanbul convention
  5. Scottish law chief casts doubt on referendum
  6. British PM faces mounting rebellion
  7. Russian military base near Finnish border emptied
  8. Euro slides to lowest level in two decades

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Legal action looms after MEPs back 'green' nuclear and gas
  2. EU readies for 'complete Russian gas cut-off', von der Leyen says
  3. Rising prices expose lack of coherent EU response
  4. Keeping gas as 'green' in taxonomy vote only helps Russia
  5. 'War on Women' needs forceful response, not glib statements
  6. Greece defends disputed media and migration track record
  7. MEPs adopt new digital 'rule book', amid surveillance doubts
  8. 'World is watching', as MEPs vote on green finance rules

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us