TTIP, the State of Play

The European Commission has recently published the document The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – State of Play, that outlines the state of progress of The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the context in which negotiations are taking place.

Between 2011 and 2013, with the aim to integrate ever more the economic relationship between Europe and the United States, a High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth (HLWG), led by the EU Trade Commissioner and the US Trade Representative, examined several initiatives that could increase the level of employment, economic growth, international competitiveness and contribute to the development of high international standards in many sectors.

On 14 June 2013, Member States of the European Union gave to the European Commission the task of increasing the cooperation with the United States while imposing, at the same time, guidelines that the European Commission has to follow and precisely:

(…) a balanced outcome between the elimination of duties, the elimination of unnecessary regulatory obstacles to trade and an improvement in rules, leading to a substantial result in each of these components and effective opening of each other’s markets.

The TTIP negotiations started in July 2013 and since then the negotiators of both sides have met for 12 rounds of discussions, which have concerned all the components of the future agreement. The last round table was held in Brussels the week of 22 February 2016.

The document specifies that this technical work is driven by regular exchanges at political level, in particular at the ministerial level between Commissioner Malmström and his counterpart, US Trade Representative Michael Froman who have been meeting regularly (at least once every 4-6 weeks) so as to provide policy guidance and, if necessary, unlock stalemates.

The document also describes the progress that the working group has reached since the summer of 2013 and how it has been achieved: some issues, such as tariffs, have reached a high level of progress and maturity, while certain parts of negotiations, such as the market access negotiations, services and public procurement, have lagged behind.

Particular attention is paid to the transparency and democratic oversight of the negotiations that have been secured by various tools:

  • in May 2013 and July 2015 the European Parliament adopted resolution on the EU trade and investment negotiations with the United States, which provides for EU negotiators guidelines to conduct negotiations;
  • EU governments and the European Parliament are fully involved in the negotiations since they have access to all EU negotiating texts and the joint EU-USA texts. Moreover, they are consulted on every aspect of formal negotiations;
  • the European Commission makes public all the EU position papers and negotiating proposals (documents that are already shared with the Member States and the European Parliament before being presented to the United States delegates);
  • a summary of all the negotiating rounds is published immediately after each round.
  • in January of 2014 was also set up the TTIP Advisory Group, composed of 16 independent experts representing different interests (businesses, SMEs, trade unions, consumers, NGOs, public health). The group meets once a month with the negotiating team of the European Union to discuss the substance of the negotiations and their work is public.

However, leaked documents by Greenpeace shed light on key aspects of the TTIP deal which have not faced public scrutiny so far.

(Giulia Dimitrio)