Following a joint declaration by US President Trump and Commission President Juncker in July 2018, the European Commission has now published two mandates for the trade negotiations with the USA. One on conformity assessments and the other on industrial tariffs. However, some MEPs in the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade take a critical view.
Following the difficult negotiations on TTIP, the on steel and aluminium from the EU, the by the US government to impose further tariffs on EU products as well as the , a new attempt to achieve a trade agreement shall now calm down things in the transatlantic relations again. The negotiation mandate on the so-called presented by Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is about minimum requirements in respect of the safety of products in the EU. According to the argumentation of the Commission, different conformity assessments may result in additional costs for the economy. Hence, the Commission proposes the mutual recognition of the conformity assessments, which, however, shall not impact the high level of protection at European level.
The second negotiation mandate deals with the elimination of the . Agricultural products, geographical indications and public procurement are not part of the mandate. Automobiles and car parts, which have an important share in European industry exports, are also not included. According to the Commission, it wants to negotiate a lean agreement without ulterior motives that helps to create a positive agenda.
Some in the Trade Committee take a critical view of the negotiation mandates. The presented by MEP Bernd Lange (S&D) refers to the difficult negotiations with the US government under Trump. According to Lange, there is no assurance that the US punitive tariffs on steel and aluminium will be repealed; on the contrary, threats of further tariffs are on the cards. Hence, a review by the US government is under way whether tariffs should be imposed also on European automobiles and car parts. Thus, as the Draft Motion for the Resolution states, the exemption of the automobile sector in the trade mandate corresponds with the political and economic interest of the USA. Trump’s rejection of the international trade regime, the WTO Rules and multilateralism make negotiations difficult. In Addition, the Commission has dispensed with the formal , based on which it defies its self-imposed rules.
The Austrian MEP in the Trade Committee, Karoline Graswander-Hainz (S&D), does not regard the USA as a reliable partner in the current situation and thinks that an agreement is the wrong strategy. She points out that agreements had to be negotiated in a fair and transparent manner and that the Commission hadn’t learned anything from the laborious negotiations concerning TTIP and CETA. Negotiations under these conditions do not bring any benefits for European employees and employers and would therefore not be appropriate.
Another obvious deficit of the present negotiation mandate is the lack of a as well as the on climate protection goals. With this in mind, Maria Arena (S&D) regards a commitment of the USA to climate protection goals as a condition for starting negotiations, as otherwise European companies would be affected by competitive disadvantages.
The adoption of the Draft Motion for a Resolution has been scheduled for mid-February. The launch of negotiation mandates with the USA would from the AK’s point of view also be the first stone for negotiations on sensible areas. This would include among other a regulatory cooperation, which is already included in .