The EU and US economies are the most integrated in the world. Since the early 1990s, the Directorate-General (DG) for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs has been working to further promote transatlantic economic cooperation, in particular by reducing unnecessary barriers and costs for businesses which stem from regulatory differences.
The transatlantic economic and trade relationship is the backbone of the world economy. Together, the European Union and the United States of America account for nearly half of the world’s GDP (47%) and one-third of global trade. Every day, goods and services worth EUR 2 billion are traded between them. Some 15 million jobs depend on the links between the EU and US economies.
There is broad acknowledgement that this privileged relationship holds more potential for both sides. For many years, DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs has been engaged in efforts to further promote economic convergence and, more specifically, to reduce the regulatory obstacles to doing business across the Atlantic. Diverging regulations or duplicative requirements often cause unnecessary barriers and costs for companies, with particularly damaging effects for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum (HLRCF) was created in 2005 to allow senior officials from all areas of government to exchange regulatory perspectives and promote cooperation towards better and more compatible rules. The Forum identifies opportunities for cooperation on specific sectorial issues and also engages stakeholders in public sessions that form part of the regular meetings. The Forum is co-chaired by the Director-General of DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. The HLRCF is currently dormant due to the comprehensive nature of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, but could be reactivated to support these negotiations.
Since 2007, political representatives have been engaging with stakeholders in the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) to deepen cooperation between governments on a wide range of economic issues. The TEC initiated and reinforced cooperation in important areas affecting innovative growth markets and technologies, such as electrical vehicles and smart grids, energy efficiency, nanotechnology, e-health and cloud computing. Until 2010, the TEC was managed by DG Enterprise and Industry (the former name of DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs). Responsibility was transferred to DG Trade in 2011. The TEC has not met at ministerial level since the launch of the TTIP negotiations, but cooperation is being pursued at technical level.
Negotiations for a comprehensive and ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are ongoing. DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs actively participates in this process.
During the EU-US Summit in November 2011, leaders of the European Union and the United States directed the TEC to establish a High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth chaired by the US Trade Representative and the EU Trade Commissioner. The Working Group was tasked with identifying measures to increase EU-US trade and investment.
In February 2013, the recommendation of the High Level Working Group to launch negotiations on a comprehensive economic and trade agreement (the TTIP) was endorsed. These negotiations began in July 2013. They aim to conclude the most important trade and investment agreement ever negotiated between two economic powers.
DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs is involved on a day-to-day basis in the TTIP negotiations, which are undertaken under DG Trade's coordination. The negotiations include three equally important pillars: market access, regulatory issues/non-tariff barriers and rules to address global challenges.