EU-USA - Regulatory Cooperation
Regulatory barriers have long been recognised as the most significant impediment to trade and investment between the EU and the USA
With mutual investment stocks of €1.89 trillion, and trade in goods and services worth €700 billion annually, a more integrated and streamlined transatlantic regulatory environment would significantly reduce costs for producers and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic and improve the competitive potential of EU and US companies in the global economy.
Regulatory cooperation is an important tool to helping dismantle existing regulatory barriers and prevent new ones from emerging. Since the development of the EU-US Guidelines for Regulatory Cooperation and Transparency, Regulatory authorities on both sides aim at achieving greater convergence of technical rules through a number of sectoral and methodological regulatory dialogues. Since its inception in 2005, the High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum has met regularly to focus on key regulatory issues of common interest and to facilitate the exchange of best regulatory practice across sectors.
There is a high interest among various stakeholders, including the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD), to see that the EU and the US government's prioritise cooperation efforts aimed at the creation of a "barrier-free transatlantic market".
In May 1998, the EU and the US launched the Transatlantic Economic Partnership [115 KB] (TEP). The TEP Action Plan called for action to address technical barriers to trade in goods, including improving the dialogue between EU and US regulators. On the basis of the TEP Action Plan, the Commission and the US Government developed Guidelines on Regulatory Cooperation and Transparency [40 KB] , endorsed by the EU-US Summit in May 2002. The Guidelines enshrined a political commitment to dialogue between EU and US regulators.
The 2005 EU-US Summit launched an Initiative to Enhance Transatlantic Economic Integration and Growth [46 KB] . One of the initiative's 11 priorities was to promote EU-US regulatory cooperation. The aim was "to build effective mechanisms to promote better quality regulation, minimize unnecessary regulatory divergences to facilitate transatlantic trade and investment and increase consumer confidence in the transatlantic market".
In 2007 the EU-US Summit established the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) as a high-level political body to promote economic integration.
In November 2011, the EU-US High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth established by the TEC was tasked to identify and assess options for strengthening the EU-US economic relationship, including opportunities for enhancing the compatibility of regulations and standards.
High Level EU-US Regulatory Cooperation Forum
The EC-U.S. High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum (“the Forum”) provides a setting for senior officials from all areas of the government to come together to discuss regulatory policy matters of mutual interest.
The Forum aims to improve the quality of regulation on both sides, through sharing regulatory best practices such as risk and impact assessments, and techniques related to reducing the costs to business and consumers that arise from unnecessary differences in regulatory requirements.
The Forum also identifies opportunities for cooperation on specific sectoral issues. The dialogue helps bridge gaps where responsibilities in the two administrations do not correspond exactly, and allows for early engagement on new emerging regulatory issues.
The Forum engages with stakeholders in public sessions which form part of its regular meetings. As well as informing business and consumers about the results of Forum work, these sessions provide a platform for stakeholders to engage in discussions with officials from both sides on topics selected by the stakeholders.
The work of the Forum contributes to achieving the objectives of high-level political bodies such as the Transatlantic Economic Council and the Energy Council.
The Forum is co-chaired by the Director-General of the Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry and the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget.