Wednesday

17th Jul 2019

'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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory

Warsaw and Budapest are boasting about their support for von der Leyen after the german is confirmed only by a small margin of MEPs, but the illiberals should not expect the softening of rule of law scrutiny.

Analysis

Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts

The first-ever female president of the European Commission wants half of her team of commissioners to consist of women. But most of the commissioners put forward so far by EU member states so far have been male.

EU proposes yearly rule-of-law 'reviews'

EU states ought to undergo a yearly "Rule of Law Review Cycle" to help stop countries such as Hungary, Poland, and Romania from backsliding on EU norms, the European Commission has said.

Analysis

What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?

The vote on von der Leyen showed the fundamental change in EU politics. The rise of the European Parliament, the power of political parties, and the fragmentation of politics, are new realities to be taken into account.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. PiS & Fidesz claim credit for von der Leyen victory
  2. Von der Leyen faces gender battle for commission posts
  3. EU proposes yearly rule-of-law 'reviews'
  4. Poland 'optimistic' despite new EU law checks
  5. What did we learn from the von der Leyen vote?
  6. Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?
  7. Finland rejects call to end sponsorship of EU presidency
  8. MH17 five years on: when will Russia be punished?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us