EP trade committee votes in favour of opening US trade negotiations

Press release
Marietje

The trade committee of the European Parliament just voted in favour of opening trade negotiations with the United States. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) welcomes the result but emphasizes this does not mean the trade agreement Europe negotiated with President Obama (TTIP) will be taken out of the freezer.

Schaake: 'With the government of President Obama we negotiated a comprehensive trade agreement. President Trump not only put that agreement prematurely in the freezer, he also did not hesitate to impose illegitimate trade measures against his allies in Europe. To ease those tensions, President Juncker and Trade Commissioner Malmström agreed to work with the United States to eliminate unnecessary trade barriers in limited sectors, such as industrial goods. By starting those negotiations, we are true to our word.'  

Strict conditions  

On the initiative of Marietje Schaake, amongst others, the European Parliament in its vote today attached strict conditions to the negotiations.  

Marietje Schaake: 'Trump's trade policy is still unpredictable. The tariffs on steel and aluminium are still in place and he also threatens to impose tariffs on the import of European cars. Every European trade agreement needs the approval of the European Parliament before it can enter into force. That allows us to attach strict conditions to the negotiations. A trade agreement with the United States can only be concluded if all illegal tariffs and threats have been taken off the table.'

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Please find the compromises proposed by the ALDE, EPP and ECR group which were adopted.

CAM 7A

2.         Reiterates that the EU should not  negotiate with the US under threat; notes, however, that the recommendations to open negotiations for a WTO compliant agreement are essential to uphold and fully implement the commitments agreed between the EU and the US in the 25 July 2018 Statement;

CAM 9A

4. Reiterates that neither the EU and US negotiating directives envisage a renewed negotiating of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations; Takes the view that a limited agreement with the US on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods including cars and taking into account the European industrial sensitivities related to the difference in energy and regulatory costs as well as a conformity assessment agreement with no changes on EU standards and rules, can pave the way to launch a new process to work towards mutually beneficial trade relations and to as such ease current trade tensions; emphasizes that emphasises that any agreement must be compatible with the Commission’s comprehensive Trade for All strategy and WTO rules and obligations, including GATT Article XXIV if the automobile sector is excluded; notes that the Commission’s recommendations to open negotiations should not be construed as an indication that it would be willing to derogate from existing trade and investment policies as outlined in the Trade for All strategy;

CAM 12A

8. Believes that the conclusion negotiations of a trade and conformity assessment agreement with the US under the above mentioned conditions does not reflect the general principles of EU trade agreements; Believes, however, that, given the exceptional circumstances, the opening of negotiations of an agreement with a limited scope and articulated red lines with the US has the potential to produce an outcome that  could  potentially be in the interest of European citizens, societies and businesses, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to generate economic growth as well as a more positive climate between the partners that could help in tackling global challenges together, including the reform of the WTO, by contributing to overcome the current trade impasse, but can only be successful and would only be in conformity with a values-based EU trade policy if the following minimum pre- conditions are met:

  • the lifting of tariffs on aluminium and steel pursuant to Section 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and the withdrawn of the threat of tariffs on cars and car parts and other products before the conclusion of the agreement
  • a comprehensive consultation process with civil society and a sustainability impact assessment of the proposed agreement, and taking into account impact assessments and studies already done in this field