European member states should give the European Commission a broad mandate for the negotiations on a trade and investment treaty with the United States (TTIP). According to MEP Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE), that would strengthen the strategic position of the European Union at the negotiating table. Schaake: “The EU has both offensive and defensive interests, prematurely excluding certain sectors from the negotiations will lead the Americans to do the same. Pre-empting the negotiations like that could trigger a downwards spiral. As a result, we would get no further than removing tariff barriers, while the real benefits of this treaty can be found in increased market access and synchronising rules and standards.” Schaake is the spokesperson for trans-Atlantic trade for the European liberal party (ALDE).
A positive message According to Schaake, the negotiations are a great opportunity for the EU to once again show its added value: “no single European member state would be able to negotiate a trade treaty like this with the Americans. Regulations and procedures will be harmonised while ensuring our own high standards with regard to, for example, environment, fundamental rights and data protection. As a result of this treaty, the European economy could structurally grow by 120 billion Euros. That means thousands of jobs. This growth would not require any government investment, that is the beauty of it.”
Down to business The reactions to a possible trans-Atlantic trade treaty, first announced by president Obama in his State of the Union speech, have been very positive in both Washington and Brussels. We are very ambitious, but the actual negotiations will definitely prove challenging. Schaake: “We are talking about the two largest trading blocs in the world; neither one has ever had a negotiating partner of this size. There are huge differences between the European and the American economy. The ways in which we make rules and which economic sectors are politically powerful differs hugely. Both sides of the Atlantic are longing for an economic impulse. No time should be wasted: we need to get down to business.”
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