04 Oct 2014
7TH ROUND OF TALKS ON TRANSATLANTIC TRADE PACT ENDS IN THE USBrussels Daily
Washington, D.C., October 3rd 2014
EU-US trade – 7th round of talks on transatlantic trade pact ends in the US
EU and US officials today ended a 7th round of week-long negotiations in Washington, D.C. (US) on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a new EU-US trade and investment deal. The EU’s Chief TTIP Negotiator, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, made a statement at the end of the round.
We have again had a week of productive discussions. Negotiations are now moving smoothly into the textual phase, where discussions are based on specific textual proposals.
1. Negotiators’ discussions
1.1. Regulatory pillar
During this round, much of the focus has been on the regulatory pillar of the future agreement. This week all the regulatory elements of TTIP were discussed, both in terms of horizontal disciplines (regulatory coherence, TBT, SPS) as well as on specific sectors identified in previous rounds such as pharmaceuticals, cars, chemicals or engineering.
As regards horizontal disciplines, we are now fully engaged in discussions based on textual proposals. An important challenge is going to be to establish a strong framework for cooperation that allows EU and US regulators to tackle new regulatory challenges based on high levels of protection.
On sectors, technical work is making steady progress in identifying concrete outcomes that save unnecessary duplications while fully respecting the mandates of our regulators. This work is very much guided by the regulators, who have again participated actively.
As you know, we consider the regulatory part of TTIP to have the potential to deliver the most benefits. It is also the most challenging part of these negotiations, because it is highly technical and requires the most innovative thinking. Despite this, I believe we are making good progress.
Let me recall three key considerations for our negotiations discussions on the regulatory pillar. These concern standards, the strategic dimension, and compatibility:
We have made an unequivocal and firm commitment: nothing will be done which could lower or endanger the protection of the environment, health, safety, consumers or any other public policy goals pursued by EU or US regulators.
Commissioner-designate Malmström reaffirmed in her European Parliament hearing this Monday that decision-making on new regulations will remain subject to existing democratic controls.
2. Strategic dimension
Enhanced regulatory cooperation is essential if the EU and US wish to play a leading role in developing international regulations and standards based on the highest levels of protection. The regulatory agenda therefore has a clear strategic dimension.
TTIP should deliver concrete results in terms of enhanced regulatory compatibility.
1.2. Rules pillar
We also discussed some elements of the rules pillar of the agreement.
We decided to focus our discussions and exchanges on four areas this week:
• energy and raw materials
• customs and trade facilitation
• intellectual property rights (IPR), and
• small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Finally, we also discussed services.
As you know, both the US and the EU put on the negotiating table before summer this year their respective market access offers.
Services offers are highly complex and technical. Our negotiators devoted most of the week to explaining to each other, in great detail, all the elements of those offers.
This is a key step in every negotiation, as we can only make further progress once each side has understood the scope of what the other has put on the table.
I would stress that our approach to services negotiations excludes any commitments on public services: governments remain free to decide at any time that certain services should be provided by the public sector.
2. Stakeholder events
In addition to negotiators’ discussions, a day of stakeholder events took place on Wednesday. I welcome the chance this gave negotiators to spend a full day engaging and exchanging views with representatives of civil society.
We have organised these sessions with stakeholders during each negotiating round. This time again, there were around 330 representatives of various interests and 64 presentations on all the areas covered by the negotiations.
Our engagement with stakeholders sends a clear message on both sides of the Atlantic. We all work on behalf of and for our citizens. So we need to listen to their ideas and respond to their concerns.
We also have the duty to explain the facts and the approach we are taking. Our dialogue must be open to all, continuous and in two directions throughout the negotiating process.
This is the only way we can ensure the final agreement responds to the high ambitions our leaders have set for us and reflects the expectations of our citizens.
I can assure you that Commissioner-Designate Malmström is fully committed to engaging in dialogue with civil society.
3. Political context
Finally, I understand that you will also have questions on how the broader political context is impacting the TTIP negotiations.
On the EU side, President-Elect Juncker highlighted TTIP as one of his 10 priorities for the new Commission. TTIP will therefore continue to have strong political support in the new Commission.
We will also continue working towards an ambitious agreement, and will not compromise on the protection of the environment, health, safety, consumers, data privacy, or any other public policy goals, nor on the right of governments to regulate.
We continue to be fully committed to these negotiations. It is in this spirit that we engaged with our counterparts this week in Washington, to progress as far as possible towards our goal of a comprehensive and innovative trade agreement.