Madam President, America and the EU face similarly large challenges when it comes to resolving the economic crisis, and cooperation should be our intention in order to sustain this recovery.
There is, however, a serious discrepancy between EU and US measures that is a reason for concern. The protectionist tendencies in the US Jobs Act seem to block access to public procurement for EU-based companies. This is of concern not only to this Parliament, but also to large sections of the US business community itself, where it is feared that the Jobs Act is out of step with a balanced US procurement policy, and that it will undermine the US ability to grow exports and jobs by accessing foreign markets.
Countermeasures may well result, such as those we saw in 2009 from the Canadian side. Trade is necessary for job creation, and trade is global. In global trade the US should not alienate one of its closest partners, the EU. We both face the challenge of the emerging economies and we also have a number of opportunities, such as the development of a comprehensive, transatlantic growth and jobs initiative – which would include plans for the removal of remaining non-tariff barriers to trade and investment by 2020 and steps towards zero tariff levels for certain types of product.
Now that the Senate has voted against the Jobs Act in the US, this should be the moment for the EU to address some of our problems again. Can the Commissioner explain whether he sees a difference between the impact of ‘Buy American’ and that of ‘Buy America’ – applying respectively to public procurement at federal and local levels? These remarkably similar titles could easily confuse people. Is ‘Buy America’ applicable to Canada and to EU partners, despite the WTO general procurement agreement, as Canada and the US business community argue, or is Ambassador Kirk right in rejecting these concerns? Will the Commission push for reciprocity in the public procurement rules between the EU and the US at both the federal and local levels?
The asymmetry between US and EU access to markets is striking. I would like to learn from the Commission what the results of conversations with the Americans on this subject have been so far, and whether it proposes that flexible rules or measures should be introduced on the EU side, should that be necessary. I would also like to ask what this Parliament and the Transatlantic Economic Council could do to help the Commission sustain openness and global trade between the two sides of the Atlantic.