International Trade Committee MEPs on Thursday strongly supported the launch of negotiations between the EU and the US on the world's biggest-ever trade deal. However, they warned Commissioner Karel De Gucht who appeared before the committee that hard bargaining would be needed to close a deal acceptable to the EU public.
Elena Ralli, New Europe, 22.02.2013 Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl (DE, EPP) at the start of the debate stated that: "We all were very happy when President Obama announced the will to start transatlantic free trade negotiations”, followed by Marietje Schaake (ALDE, NL) who agreed that this was a historic moment and believed that the House shared "the political will to find a mutually beneficial and fair deal". Nevertheless, MEPs stressed that the EU and the US have many systemic differences and as a result, they might face strong public criticism. But they underlined that public support is important for the implementation of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TRIP). Vital Moreiria (S&D, PT), chair of the trade committee and responsible for relations with the US, said the biggest problems in the talks would be animal and plant health standards. Other MEPs raised concerns over genetically modifiied crops and hormones in beef and Syed Kamall (ECR, UK) highlighted the need to protect the EU's geographical indication system. Other issues that worry MEPs are intellectual property rights and data protection, as well as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The European Commission plans to submit a negotiating mandate to the Council in March. Negotiations are likely to take at least two years and the deal will have to be approved by the European Parliament. Together, the EU and the US account for about half of the world GDP (47%) and one third of global trade flows. According to estimations, this agreement could generate €86 billion of added annual income to the EU economy and €65 billion for the US, while at the same time creating jobs and boosting growth.