The EU and US today concluded the second round of week-long negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. A good atmosphere and the active involvement of regulators from both sides meant significant progress was made.
“I am glad to see that we are now fully back on track with the EU-US trade talks”, said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. “We are making good and steady progress across the broad range of issues we need to tackle to make our transatlantic business environment more efficient and effective whilst preserving the protections and rights already in place for consumers. Let’s keep our eye on the prize: more jobs for people in Europe, more growth for the European economy.”
Continuing from where they left off in the first round in July, negotiators discussed investment rules, trade in services, energy and raw materials, as well as a range of regulatory issues, including regulatory coherence, technical barriers to trade and sectoral approaches. Talks on public procurement took place before the planned October meeting, cancelled due to the US government shutdown.
In addition to the physical meetings in Brussels, video conferences took place covering plant health and hygiene measures, intellectual property rights, competition policy and small and medium enterprises. Video-conferences on tariffs and on sustainable development, including labor and environment, are planned for the coming weeks. A future meeting to discuss financial services regulation is scheduled in Brussels for November 27.
Negotiators built on the discussions they started in the first round of talks in Washington in July. They made progress in identifying areas of common ground in order to start preparing for text-based discussions in rounds ahead.
- On investment, discussions continued on comparing respective approaches to investment liberalization and protection. There was a good degree of agreement on getting an ambitious deal while confirming the Parties’ regulatory freedom to legislate in the public interest. The hope is to progress to detailed drafting of text in the rounds to come.
- On services, the EU and US compared their respective approaches on cross-border services, financial services, telecommunications and e-commerce. They also began setting out their respective market access interests in various services sectors. They agreed to discuss regulatory cooperation in financial services within the next two weeks.
- On regulatory issues, both sides agreed on the importance of horizontal rules and specific commitments in sectors. Negotiators, including regulatory experts, had a solid discussion on regulatory coherence and on possible elements for a chapter on technical barriers to trade going beyond WTO disciplines (so-called “TBT plus”). They held detailed talks on a number of sectors in which both the EU and the US are keen to enhance regulatory compatibility: medical devices, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, pesticides, information and communication technologies (ICT) and automobiles. More sectors may be discussed at the next round in December or in future rounds.
- On energy and raw materials, the EU and US continued talks begun in July on how to develop a common approach to addressing the many challenges they face. Both sides see a predictable market for energy and raw materials as crucial for ensuring reliable supplies.
The EU and US also shared their experiences of previous FTA negotiations. They held detailed talks on specific issues that could be the subject of potential disciplines in this area. Talks will continue in December.
At the end of the week, the EU’s chief negotiator Ignacio García Bercero, together with his US counterpart Dan Mullaney, held a meeting with over 350 EU and US stakeholders representing non-governmental organizations, consumer groups, trade unions, and business and professional organizations.
The chief negotiators briefed them on the week’s discussions and listened to stakeholders’ views on the talks. Welcoming the discussions with stakeholders, Mr García Bercero reiterated the EU’s commitment to continued engagement with them.
The next round of TTIP talks will take place in Washington DC in the week of December 16 meaning that, despite the postponement of the second round, the negotiations remain on track. After the December round, the two Parties will take stock, identify areas of convergence and areas where political guidance might be needed.
Press release, including background: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-1091_en.htm
All documents on the negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
The Regulatory Part of TTIP
Independent study on the benefits of an EU-US trade agreement MEMO/13/211
More information on the EU’s trade relations with the United States: