As negotiations between the European Union and the United States over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) move toward a final agreement, opponents of the proposed pact are becoming more vocal. Criticism of any major economic-policy change is only natural, but failing to reach agreement on this accord would be a historic mistake – one that Europe will soon regret. Indeed, the TTIP could turn out to be the most important bulwark of transatlantic unity since the North Atlantic Treaty established NATO in 1949….
Today, North America and Europe account for close to a half of the world’s total output. The establishment of a free-trade zone between the two blocs is expected to generate an additional €100 billion ($107 billion) a year on each side of the Atlantic, as well as create millions of new jobs….
At the same time, TTIP could prove to be immensely beneficial to NATO, providing new meaning to the Alliance’s raison d’être of uniting countries with shared values to cooperate in their mutual defense. Given the sensitive nature of military procurement, both sides have – at least for the time being – agreed to exclude the defense sector from the negotiations. But the EU’s member states would be missing an opportunity if they did not pledge to use a part of the profits from the agreement to increase their defense budgets, thus mitigating the steep imbalance in military contributions and capabilities that currently exists between Europe and the US….
TTIP’s strategic potential can hardly be overstated. It is crucial that technical objections, tactical considerations, or protectionist instincts not be allowed to eclipse the project’s geopolitical importance. Failure to realize the possibilities created by the treaty would be a terrible economic mistake. It would also represent a major setback for transatlantic relations at a time when the West can least afford it.
Jiří Šedivý, a former Czech defense minister, is Ambassador of the Czech Republic to NATO.