EU Commission – US hasten talks to avoid NGO reactions on free trade agreement

Dan Mullaney, Chief US negotiator (on the left) and Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Chief European Union negotiator for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), held a second round of talks in Brussels from Monday 11 to Friday 15 November 2013. (EC Audiovisual Services 15/11/2013).

Dan Mullaney, Chief US negotiator (on the left) and Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Chief European Union negotiator for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), held a second round of talks in Brussels from Monday 11 to Friday 15 November 2013. (EC Audiovisual Services 15/11/2013).

Last Friday 15 November the European Union and the United States concluded the second round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations in Brussels. The TTIP is a kind of enlarged free trade agreement involving the two largest trading partners of the world. It covers mainly the impediments after the borders (regulations and technical barriers) rather than tariffs, which have practically been restricted to an average of 4% a long time ago. Both sides said that “significant progress was made” last week.

Negotiations have been planned to advance by weekly rounds. The first one was realised last July and the next one was set for October. However, due to the shutdown of the American administration for 17 days during that month, the last round was cancelled. Talks resumed last Monday, with the second round having been concluded last Friday 15 November. The next round of the TTIP negotiations will take place in Washington D.C. in the week of 16 December.

Both sides insisted that despite the postponement of the second round, the negotiations remain on track. Obviously there are high level interests that press the negotiators to accelerate their work to cover for the lost time. It’s very interesting to note that in addition to the physical meetings in Brussels last week, “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 labour and environment, are planned for the coming weeks”. A future meeting to discuss financial services regulations is scheduled in Brussels for 27 November.

No doubt some high-ranking authorities on both sides are pressed for a brief conclusion of the negotiations. As it is easily understood, tariffs are not an issue. It’s the regulatory environment on certain sectors that have consumed most of negotiators’ time. Going through them, one can understand which parties are pressed for a quick conclusion of the talks.

Seeking regulatory coherence

According to a press release issued by the Commission, “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 … 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”.

G. Bercero (on the left) and Dan Mullaney held a joint Press conference last Friday 15 November. (EC Audiovisual Services).

G. Bercero (on the left) and Dan Mullaney held a joint Press conference last Friday 15 November. (EC Audiovisual Services 15/11/2013).

Understandably, those sectors are of a great interest to Germany, France and Britain, the main ‘powers’ behind the breath-taking speed of the negotiations. It is as if other sectors of great interest to smaller EU member states are left for the margins of the negotiations. For example tourism doesn’t seem to occupy any major part of the talks. Still, this sector provides anything between one tenth and one fifth of the GDP of south Eurozone countries. Not to forget that those countries are also the hardest hit by the economic crisis.

Who is served?

In short, it crystal clear that this TTIP is serving primarily the interest of EU’s ‘big three’. There is more to it however. It’s not only the interests of the minor EU member states which are neglected. Issues like data protection, heath and environmental issues are practically exorcised from TTIP negotiations, quite conveniently for the US as well. It is investments, automotive, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and pesticides that cover the major part of negotiations.

Understandably the ‘big three’ of the EU, and the US agree on what to negotiate upon and what to leave out. Only some days ago the Commission made a gift to the US by proposing the free cultivation in the EU of Monsanto’s genetically modified maize seed for sowing under the name of ‘Pioneer 1507’. The EU has already authorised the cultivation on European soil of another GMO seed, the MON 810 maize, also a Monsanto product. This must have been a prerequisite set by the Americans, to accept to change their internal regulatory environment in other sectors of interest for the ‘big three’, like cars and chemicals.

Seemingly that’s why EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said “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”. De Guch is prosecuted in his home country Belgium for tax evasion.

Muted stakeholders

It’s interesting to note that the EU’s chief negotiator Ignacio García Bercero, together with his US counterpart Dan Mullaney, held a meeting during this past week with over 350 EU and US stakeholders representing non-governmental organisations, consumer groups, trade unions, and business and professional organisations. Despite the fact, though, that last Friday the Commission issued a Press release of more than one thousand words, there was nothing in it from what those 350 stakeholders said.

Probably the haste that the Commission and the US show to conclude the negotiations is used as a scheme to minimise the reactions from civil society organisations. To this effect, the two sides will not restrict their work to the weekly rounds. Apart from the fact that the next round will go straight up to Xmas from 16 to 20 December, negotiations will be held also as from 27 November to discuss financial services in Brussels as noted above.

All in all, there are no more red lines and things like that in those negotiations. What interests the political bosses of negotiators in both sides of the Atlantic Ocean is the abolishment of restrictions meant to protect consumers, the environment and the conditions of work of professionals.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Deadly swine fever threatens Asia, UN agriculture agency warns, urging regional collaboration

With the right leadership, sustainable finance can help us shift to a low-carbon economy

The G7 should take the lead on ocean targets for 2020

More state aid to big firms, no special provisions for the SMEs

10th ASEM in Milan and the importance of being one: EU’s big challenge on the way to China

Friday’s Daily Brief: human rights in Sudan, sombre anniversaries for Rwanda and Nigeria, and fears of ‘chaos’ in Libya

Libya: $202 million needed to bring life-saving aid to half a million people hit by humanitarian crisis

Independent UN rights expert calls for compassion, not sanctions on Venezuela

Berlin repels proposal for cheaper euro

UN should be ‘exemplary’ in defending judicial independence, top Judge tells Security Council

Brexit: UK to suffer from EU’s uncompromising stance

COP21 Paris: The Final Agreement Adopted-full text

The ECB will do whatever it takes to set the Eurozone economy again in motion

A Sting Exclusive: “There can be no global deal on emissions without China and the USA”, Conservative MEP Ian Duncan stresses from Brussels

Why growth is now a one way road for Eurozone

Mario Draghi didn’t do it but Kim Jong-un did

IMF: When high yield goes boom

Burkina Faso: Dozens killed in clashes, UN chief condemns attacks

Western Balkans: European Parliament takes stock of 2018 progress

Ambassador Zhang wishes from Brussels great success and prosperity for the China-EU relations in the Year of the Dog

European Energy Union: Integration of markets and need for in-house energy production

Davos on Climate Change: citizens demanding more actions while CEOs tried to balance profit with sustainability

Here are five tips to make your message clear in a crowded world

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

ECB: A revolutionary idea to revitalize the European economy with cheap loans to SMEs

G20 to Germany: Abandon miser policies

Under-fives’ daily screen time should be kept to 60 minutes only, warns WHO

Women still struggle to find a job, let alone reach the top: new UN report calls for ‘quantum leap’

What could a no-deal Brexit mean for developing countries?

Conflict diamonds and climate change: Cooperate, don’t compete over natural resources urges Guterres

UN humanitarian coordinator condemns Central African Republic hospital attack as ‘inhuman and unworthy’

‘Free state aid’ for imprudent banks

European Accessibility Act: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal

What our leaders hide from us

2014 budget: The EU may prove unable to agree on own resources

Rule of Law: Commission launches infringement procedure to protect the independence of the Polish Supreme Court

Europe had a record year for Measles – and it’s partly down to anti-vaccine campaigners

The inhumane face of crisis mirrored in numbers

‘Address root causes’ of instability in Mali through ‘aid and support’ urges UN chief

Here are the biggest cybercrime trends of 2019

Evidence shows ‘brutal’ killing of Saudi journalist ‘planned and perpetrated’ by State officials: UN independent expert

Juncker and Tusk killed Greece on 07 July 2015 to meet the Commission’s summer vacation plan? #Grexit #Greferendum #Graccident

How Eurozone consumers spend their income when they have one…

Eurozone’s sovereign debt not a problem anymore?

Flexible jobs can make work-life balance worse, a German study finds

UN space-based tool opens new horizons to track land-use on Earth’s surface

Is it too soon to hope for a tobacco free Romania?

A young person’s perspective on the Paris and Beirut attacks and aftermath

Hostages to a rampant banking system

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

Posting of workers: final vote on equal pay and working conditions

The JADE Spring Conference 2017 is casting its shadows before

MEPs call for EU Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions on human rights abusers

Community Manager – 1289

Young students envision turning Europe into an Entrepreneurial Society

Shenzhen just made all its buses electric, and taxis are next

These 4 scenarios show how we might be working in the future

‘End the ongoing atrocities’ against people with albinism in Malawi, say UN rights experts

The world is facing a $15 trillion infrastructure gap by 2040. Here’s how to bridge it

Deal on protecting workers from exposure to harmful substances

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s