EU-U.S. Trade Talks: European Commission presents draft negotiating mandates

malmstrom 2019_

© European Union , 2019 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Mauro Bottaro

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission has today adopted proposals for negotiating directives for its trade talks with the United States: one on conformity assessment, and one on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods.

These negotiations follow the Joint Statement agreed by President Juncker and President Trump last July.

As part of its commitment to transparency, the European Commission is publishing the draft mandates at the same time as submitting them to the EU Member States. The Member States must now give their green light to the proposals before negotiations can begin.

EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: “Today’s publication of our draft negotiating directives is part of the implementation of the July joint statement of Presidents Juncker and Trump. Ambassador Lighthizer and I have already met several times in the Executive Working Group and I have made it very clear that the EU is committed to upholding its side of the agreement reached by the two Presidents. These two proposed negotiating directives will enable the Commission to work on removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to transatlantic trade in industrial goods, key goals of the July Joint Statement.”

The negotiating directives submitted by the Commission to the Council implement the 25 July Joint Statement and cover two potential agreements with the U.S:

  1. A trade agreement strictly focused on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products;
  2. A second agreement, on conformity assessment, that would help address the objective of removing non-tariff barriers, by making it easier for companies to prove their products meet technical requirements on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the context of the EU-U.S. Executive Working Group, established in July 2018, co-chairs Commissioner Malmström and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have met four times in order to bring the agreed work programme forward. Several other meetings were held between representatives of the two sides at senior officials’ and expert levels.

The EU has already implemented several aspects of the July Joint Statement. Notably, imports of U.S. soya beans by the European Union increased by 112% over the period July to December 2018, compared to the same period last year. The United States is now Europe’s main soya beans supplier and will soon be able to expand its market further, following the decision by the European Commission to launch the process for authorising the use of U.S. soya beans for biofuels. Recent figures have also shown a steep rise in shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. in October and November 2018. The EU has also identified a number of areas where voluntary cooperation on regulatory issues with the U.S. could yield quick and substantial results.

The Juncker Commission changed the way trade negotiations are conducted by making them more open and inclusive and by introducing an unprecedented level of transparency. The publication of the draft negotiating mandates, as submitted to Member States, and of any other negotiating proposals are landmark elements of this approach.

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