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16 July 2013

Commissioner Barnier: Time for a new transatlantic partnership

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Barnier stressed that the TTIP was the biggest trade and investment negotiations ever. "It is now up to us to turn this ambition into reality", he said. The EU has also taken the unprecedented step of making available to the public some of its initial position papers on the negotiations.

Barnier said he believed ambition could be turned into reality - on two conditions.

I – First, we need to be ambitious enough to build a real transatlantic marketplace.

We clearly must do away with any remaining tariffs. But remember that our tariffs are already very low: 4 per cent on average. I agree with Michael Froman that we should think outside the box if we are to create a transatlantic marketplace.

We need to focus on the so-called “behind the border” issues. Such as differences in technical regulations, standards and certification. And we need to emphasise market access, including for services and investment. A real transatlantic market place would give access to public procurement. Each partner cannot restrict its public procurement to national companies as is too often the case today. If we are to build the transatlantic marketplace, we need to put in place a transatlantic financial market.

We have already demonstrated that we can work together to set out rules that strengthen financial stability. And we have shown joint leadership within the G20. Each of us has adopted solid rules. For instance on capital requirements and on regulating OTC derivatives. And only last week, I made proposals to complete the Banking Union by creating a Single Resolution Mechanism. A kind of FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation] for the eurozone. So we can finally break the link between sovereigns and the banks. So we can avoid taxpayers having to foot the bill when banks face serious problems.

On all these issues and many others, we now need to make our two sets of rules work together. European and US accounting rules need to converge. We need to make progress on insurance. Draft US rules on Foreign Banking Organisations should be revised. They do not recognise non-US prudential rules. And they discriminate against non-US banks. And we need to prove that we trust each other by ensuring equivalence or “substituted compliance”.

We reached a landmark agreement on cross-border derivatives last week with the CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission]. It establishes that our rules are essentially identical in important areas. Firms from the US and the EU will be able to choose which rules to apply to a trade: EMIR [European Market Infrastructure Regulation] or Dodd-Frank.

We must go beyond a single agreement for a specific area. We must build the bases for a solid, consistent and cooperative financial regulatory framework, based on mutual trust. We in Europe are open as to what exactly should be done in the TTIP, and what should be done elsewhere. But let’s be clear: the TTIP provides a golden opportunity to deepen our regulatory cooperation. It is why we are proposing to include financial regulation in TTIP. Because this partnership is more than a traditional free trade agreement. Because we need a framework to ensure the seamless interoperability of rules agreed at the G20. And I sincerely hope the US authorities engage in a constructive way.

I arrived Sunday night in Washington. Since then, I’ve heard suggestions that Europe’s real reason for wanting financial regulation in TTIP is to delay and/or weaken implementation of G20 commitments. Let me be very clear: nothing could be further from the truth. The EU has tough rules on financial services, sometimes tougher than the US. I will not accept anything which weakens those rules.

Common standards on trade, intellectual property rights, public procurement and financial regulation will make it possible to create a true transatlantic market place. But there is something else that is vital if we are to build a closer EU-US partnership.

II – We need to build ever closer political transatlantic ties.

The US and Europe need each other. To promote our shared values. To defend our joint interests. And to face the challenges of a fast-changing world. But we will only succeed if we trust each other...

The TTIP is a starting point. It is an opportunity to prove that we are able to trust each other. To make mutual concessions for economic growth and jobs. And to define global standards. So our partnership can be “free and fair” as President Obama called for.

If we can pass this “test phase”, we can build an even closer political alliance in the future. And we can exert joint leadership in tomorrow’s world.

Full speech

EU publishes initial TTIP Position Papers

"The EU is committed to providing a maximum of information possible for the public, the media, and the many stakeholders as we move through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiation. We are very conscious that this is the EU's largest ever bilateral trade negotiation.

"That is why we are taking the unprecedented step of making available to the public a number of the EU's initial position papers on various aspects of the negotiations. The papers are the technical documents that we presented to our American counterparts during the first negotiating round that took place from 8 to 12 July 2013 in Washington. 

They cover the following areas:

For more information on transparency in the EU bilateral negotiations and handling of TTIP negotiating documents, please see the factsheet on transparency in the EU bilateral negotiations and an EU letter sent to the US Chief Trade Negotiators in this regard.

Press release

© European Commission

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