President Obama will be meeting in Washington next Monday with European Council President Donald Tusk to discuss a wide range of current challenges facing the United States and Europe, including economic growth and the importance of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The meeting will be the first between the two leaders since the former Polish Prime Minister took the helm of the European Council in December.
At a joint news conference last month with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, the new EU president expressed his desire to successfully conclude TTIP negotiations by the end of 2015. Biden said he was keen to encourage European partners to as soon as possible finalize the negotiations on the trade deal that have been ongoing for several years. “This agreement is good for the people on both sides of the Atlantic, and I would like the EU to convince me that it is genuinely interested to carry it out,” said Biden.
“One of the things we have to convince the American people of is that Europe is as interested in this process as we are,” the Vice President told reporters, adding that both countries are “committed to breaking down the remaining barriers to trade that have been holding us back from achieving the full potential of what is already an incredible transatlantic alliance.”
The remarks came after trade negotiators wrapped up five days of talks in Brussels at which time the parties agreed to hold two more rounds of discussions before summer, one of them scheduled in April and the other later in the first half of the year. Chief U.S. negotiator Dan Mulaney stated that they were “working full throttle on TTIP, working across the board.”
Anti-TTIP campaigners had a different sort of throttle in mind earlier this week when they called on European lawmakers to reject any EU-US trade treaty that does not, in their opinion, “serve the public interest.” A coalition of 375 civil society organizations from across Europe, including War on Want, Greenpeace and two of Britain’s largest trade unions UNISON and GMB published a letter addressed to MEPs as they prepare the text of a resolution on TTIP for adoption by the European Parliament's forthcoming plenary session.
John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, said: “The people of Europe want nothing to do with this dangerous deal being cooked up between the EU and USA. We call on all MEPs to represent the views of their constituents and to reject any agreement that does not serve the public interest. Corporate greed must not come before genuine need.”
The EU-US trade deal would not just slash the already low trade tariffs they share, but far more importantly – and worryingly for its critics – would also harmonize regulations to an unprecedented degree, affecting a comprehensive range of both goods and services.