Joint press conference by José Manuel Barroso and Karel De Gucht on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
Type: Complete press conference
Brussels - EC/Berlaymont
On 13 February 2013, José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Karel De Gucht, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, gave a press conference on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, at the European Commission, in Brussels.
On this occasion, José Manuel Barroso announced that the Commission will move quickly to present a negotiating mandate to Member States so that negotiations can start as soon as possible, still during the Irish Presidency of the Council.
At the beginning of his statement, he warmly welcomed the commitment of Barack Obama, President of the United States, to this shared goal and underlined that a future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a game-changer.
José Manuel Barroso also emphasised the benefits the future deal will bring in terms of a strong boost to the economies on both sides of the Atlantic.
Only the original language version is authentic and it prevails in the event of its differing from the translated versions.
||Arrival of José Manuel Barroso, President of the EC, and Karel De Gucht, Member of the EC in charge of Trade, to the press conference on Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and introductory words by Olivier Bailly, Coordinating Spokeperson, at the European Commission in Brussels (2 shots)
||Soundbite by José Manuel Barroso (in ENGLISH): Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to announce today that the European Union and the United States have decided to initiate internal procedures to launch negotiations with the aim of reaching a ground-breaking free trade agreement: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.I am glad that following the political decision taken together with President Obama in our 2011 Summit in Washington this is now possible. I welcome the commitment of President Obama to this shared goal and I look forward to working closely with him to achieve this.There have been in the past several attempts to launch this process of negotiations, but every time there were obstacles and resistance. The European Commission has been strongly advocating this very important step forward, and I would like to thank the business community on both sides of the Atlantic for their support. I am sure that this has played a role in today's positive developments, and we certainly will need their support for the next steps.A future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a game-changer. Together, we will form the largest free trade zone in the world. So this negotiation will set the standard – not only for our future bilateral trade and investment, including regulatory issues, but also for the development of global trade rules. A future deal will give a strong boost to our economies on both sides of the Atlantic. It will be a comprehensive agreement going beyond tariffs, by integrating markets and removing barriers. It is estimated that, when this agreement is up and running, the European economy will get a stimulus of half a per cent of our GDP – which translates into tens of billions of Euros every year and tens of thousands of new jobs. This offers us a great perspective at a time when we are gradually making our way to recovery. And most important of all: it is a boost to our economies that doesn't cost a cent of tax payers' money. For these negotiations to succeed, we need – above all - political will: a desire to make our rules and regulations compatible, and to cut tariffs whenever it makes sense and is possible. So today's announcement to launch negotiations sends a positive signal to people on both sides of the Atlantic. It provides an assurance that 'we mean business' – whether that is for individual consumers or households, business or traders.Today's announcement shows that Europe and the United States are strategic partners who are willing to go the extra mile to strengthen their economies together. Now, these negotiations will not be easy. But we also recognise that we should move fast. In this respect, I'm confident that the joint High-Level Working Group Report which has just been published provides us with a good framework for the future negotiations. Right now, the task at hand is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. The Commission will move quickly to present a negotiating mandate to our Member States so we can start negotiations as soon as possible, still during the Irish Presidency of the Council. I was glad to see the commitment of all the 27 Member States, as expressed in the recent conclusions of the European Council. The sooner we start, the sooner we can reach a successful conclusion and put in place the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated. Now I pass the floor to Karel De Gucht, who, on behalf of the Commission and the European Union, has been co-chairing the High Level Working Group with the US trade representative.
||Soundbite by Karel De Gucht (in ENGLISH): Thank you Mr. President. Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to begin by also underlining how pleased I am that our joint report is now published and gives both Europe and the United States the 'green light' to go for it. Today's 'final report' provides us with the building blocks to achieve this 'Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership' but as the President stressed – this undertaking won't be easy. Ideally, we'd like to complete this work in about two years from now – but, more paramount than speed is achieving an ambitious deal. It's true to say that such a 'transatlantic economic alliance' will be ground-breaking. An opportunity for us to shape our economic relationship for decades to come, and to work toward global rules. We are already the world's most important trade partners – with business between us reaching 2 billion Euros per day. But what also binds us right now – today – is the need to generate new growth into our economies. So, the time is right to move forward. But what exactly is this all about?First of all, we still need to dismantle any remaining traditional tariffs and then we need to make head-way on market access issues in other areas such as public procurement, services and investment. Now it's important to understand that we already have very low tariff arrangements in place: on average a 4 per cent tariff on imports. So, our main focus has to be to tackle those barriers which are behind the customs border – such as differences in technical regulations, standards and certifications. These often cost time and money. This is where we can make real savings for our businesses and bring better value for consumers. In fact, such barriers are estimated to be equivalent to slapping a traditional tariff on a product of between 10 and 20 per cent – so the current cost to business and consumers is high.Just let me give you one example: the barriers faced by European car manufacturers over their exports to the US. Rules in the US and the EU on car safety are similarly strict – as public safety is always our top priority. So, perhaps it makes sense to look together at putting in place a system of 'mutual recognition'. This would maintain the strictest and highest safety levels for consumers but save manufacturers unnecessary double costs. Finally, we need to work together on developing global rules and standards which will shape the future business environment of the world in the years to come. So what's next? Each side must now follow its internal procedures – for us this means we'll now present a draft mandate to the Council. Our shared objective is to launch negotiations during the 'Irish Presidency of the EU' - so by the summer - and then to push ahead with them as quickly as possible. Thank you for your time and we'd be happy to answer a few questions.
||Soundbite by Olivier Bailly (in ENGLISH) opening the questions/answers session