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U.S., EU Officials Clarify “Fresh Start” for TTIP Negotiations

Friday, December 12, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman and European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström met in Washington Dec. 8 to review the state of the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Froman said he and Malmström “talked about next steps in terms of equipping our teams with the tools they need to move forward on the outstanding issues.” Malmström added that the two officials “went through everything” and “exchanged new ideas, informally,” on where the negotiations stand and possible ways forward. They also agreed on a number of practical steps to prepare for the next formal round of talks scheduled for the week of Feb. 2 in Brussels, including meetings in January.

Malmström said the European Commission expects to release “probably just after Christmas” the results of its public consultation on investor-state dispute settlement. The EU paused TTIP talks on this controversial issue in February and has received more than 100,000 comments on it, many from an increasingly vocal opposition. Malmström said that once the results are made public the issue will still have to be discussed by EU member states and the European Parliament before a decision on whether or not to include ISDS in the TTIP can be made.

Both sides have said they are looking forward to a “fresh start” to the talks after the recent seating of a new European Commission. Froman clarified this week that this does not mean a reconfiguration of the negotiations but rather is an opportunity “to look anew at the outstanding issues and to figure out how best to … take them forward.” Malmström added that for her the “fresh start” has two parts: “working in a more inclusive way” with EU commissioners who oversee economic and foreign policy issues, and initiating “real negotiations” with the U.S. now that the two sides have “put everything on the table.” BusinessEurope Director General Markus Beyrer applauded the latter statement, saying “this must be the end of the preparatory phase” of the talks and that European business “expects strong political commitment from both sides to find compromise solutions on critical topics like regulatory cooperation, public procurement, energy and small and medium-sized enterprises.”

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