US and EU representatives agreed to extend the current round of talks regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), started on February 22nd, two additional weeks. Both parties were clear about their satisfaction regarding the ground covered over the past days, and ratified their commitment to conclude an agreement in 2016.
During this round of negotiations, the twelfth since the talks started in 2013, discussions have focused on different aspects concerning the three pillars of the TTIP: Access to North-American markets for European companies and vice-versa, regulatory cooperation and trade rules. Specifically, regulatory cooperation has become a top priority for both parties, which expect to start debating over a consolidated text as of July. Thus, regulatory cooperation has been addressed regarding various industrial sectors such as the chemical, cosmetic, engineering, medical devices, pesticides, information technology and communication, pharmaceuticals, textiles and motor.
Chief European negotiator, Ignacio García-Bercero, announced that the round of talks will continue for two more weeks, to address topics such as public contracting, regarding which the parties expect to have a more specific proposal in coming days. It has also stated that there will be two more rounds of talks before summer (possibly in April and July), when both blocks should be ready to “finalize the agreement.”
In this line, his US counterpart, Dan Mullaney, reiterated the US’ commitment to successful conclusion of these negotiations and to accelerating progress this year”.
Moreover, in these negotiations it has been introduced for the first time the proposal that the European Commission set forth last November regarding the investor-state dispute settlement system (or ICS, International Court System) which will be discussed and negotiated during the next two weeks and the following rounds.
Another topic that remains at the heart of the conversations, as José Manuel González-Páramo, Executive Board Director of BBVA, recently reminded, is consumer data protection. The EU and the US recently approved a new safe harbor agreement, establishing tougher requirements for US companies regarding the protection of EU citizen data and collaboration with authorities in data protection. This new agreement, officially named ‘privacy shield’, will become effective in three months.
In April, Barack Obama will visit Germany, with the TTIP as one of the top priorities in his agenda, according to website Politico.
Meanwhile, the US government seeks to promote the signing of TTIP with Barack Obama's visit to Germany, with the TTIP as one of the top priorities in his agenda.