MEPs press for a Transatlantic Market by 2015

EurActiv | Friday 12 January 2007

MEPs press for a Transatlantic Market by 2015

Influential MEP group urges greater economic and regulatory cooperation between the EU and the US by removing transatlantic barriers to trade and investment.

Background:

Recent official visits by the German EU Presidency and the Commission president have aimed at reviving the stalled Doha Round of negotiations within the multilateral framework of the WTO.

Issues:

A group of MEPs, assembled under the heading of the Transatlantic Policy Network (TPN) have spoken out in favour of establishing a transatlantic market by 2015. The aim of which is to remove barriers to trade and investment between the EU and the US and to develop a common approach to regulatory policy, competition law and capital markets, in order to generate economic growth.

The group defended itself against the critisims that such an undertaking would sideline the ongoing multilateral trade negotiations of the Doha round.

Social democrat MEP Erika Mann underlined that the main focus was not to establish a free trade agreement (FTA), but to remove all existing barriers to trade by 2015 and foster a greater political understanding as part of the new transatlantic agenda.

Contrary to a free trade agreement (FTA), the envisaged cooperation agreement would also need the support from the European Parliament as well as the US Congress.

Christian democrat MEP Elmar Brok said the proposal was not intended to replace a multilateral agreement and does not concern tariffs, but non tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade in goods, services, and especially financial services. Brok further regretted that the idea met with political resistance from countries, such as France. He thinks the agreement could be something like an “Elysée treaty for transatlantic relations”, which tied together the French-German couple in 1963, and compared its possible benefits of that of the internal market.

Conservative MEP James Elles pointed out to the US Senate resolution of 9 December 2006, which urged for 2015 as a target date for completing the transatlantic market. He also welcomed the recommendation by German Chancellor and currently EU President Angela Merkel to establish a working group on transatlantic economic relations.

Positions:

German Chancellor and EU President Angela Merkel said she supported the idea of applying the single market to a transatlantic level and reinforcing EU-US cooperation.

In a letter to the Commission president, Secretary General of the European business association UNICE, Philippe de Buck said: "Although a deep and advanced free trade agreement would clearly be the best solution, UNICE accepts that this is not politically feasible at this time." De Buck further added: "UNICE proposes that the next months be used to conclude or launch negotiations on a framework agreement, agreed by both sides and ratified through both legislatures."

Chairman of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue, Charles Prince stated: "Transatlantic businesses operate increasingly in integrated global markets, supply chains and processes for service delivery. A true Barrier Free Transatlantic Market is therefore needed to improve competitiveness and create jobs."

Latest & next steps:

- The group would like to see a decision towards the establishment of a Transatlantic Market at the 2007 EU-US summit.

source: EurActiv