Who’s Who & Who’s New?
Now that incoming European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced his appointees for the next Commission, TTIP Action will introduce several of the new commissioners, their portfolios, and their role in the European Union over the course of the next several weeks. Today’s edition introduces Pierre Moscovici, the designated Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs.
“I am an engaged and convinced European. From now on, I will not act as the French Finance Minister anymore but as a European commissioner in the general interest. The most important thing is to contribute to the collective task of restoring growth in Europe,” Moscovici asserted in a recent interview following his nomination. Make sure you follow him on Twitter at @pierremoscovici, and you can find his official website here.
Formerly French Finance Minister, Moscovici will assume the position of Economic Affairs commissioner if confirmed by the European Parliament. Moscovici’s focus will be to create the conditions for sustainable economic growth which creates jobs and spur investment across Europe. His actions will be supervised by Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President for Jobs and Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, and Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue which is likely to create some points of friction as Katainen and Moscovici are both known advocates of budgetary discipline (Euractiv).
His appointment sparked considerable criticism, among those who doubt the credibility and legitimacy of naming a Frenchman to the Economic post because he will be responsible for overseeing national budgets and ensuring they meet the Stability and Growth Pact’s deficit targets (Euractiv). In the event a budget does not, the Financial Times addressed his delicate situation, pointing out that Moscovici will have to approve or reject a French budget that he was in charge of less than six months ago.
Moscovici will be a leading actor in the debate between Europe’s South and North on the loosening of the current fiscal rules. Despite his statement that, “We can have a dose, a certain dose of flexibility. But flexibility is not indulgence, flexibility is not complacency, flexibility is not weakness,” Moscovici made equally clear that Hollande’s plans for the French economic recovery “which lead to cuts in public expenditure and help a pro-business attitude and structural reforms – have to be made.”
Juncker himself deems Moscovici the right person for the job, hoping that he will be a mediator between the EU and the French public with regards to tough upcoming EU budget decisions. Some German MEPs are disappointed by Moscovici’s nomination, calling him ‘the Trojan Horse in the Commission’, claiming that Juncker has put the fox in charge of the henhouse (Euractiv). In an interview with the German newspaper Spiegel, Moscovici counters this allegation by stating that “processes of reform take time. At the beginning of this millennium, Germany was considered “the sick man of Europe”. Only after years of intensive reform, the economy recovered.”
In line with the views of his party in France, Moscovici is an advocate of free trade and the conclusion of TTIP, which might help him to find future common ground with his German critics.
The official mission letter from President Juncker to Commissioner-designate Moscovici is available here.
Speeches and Official Announcements
The European Union in the New World Order
In a recent speech at the Yale School of Management, European Commission President Barroso of the European Commission, spoke of the importance of EU partnership with the United States, the international relevance in Europe, and the interconnectedness of economics and geopolitics. Mr. Barroso emphasized the importance of approaching international trade agreements like TTIP and the recent EU agreement with Ukraine in fostering greater international cooperation. (Europa)
Karel De Gucht European Commissioner for Trade Statement on CETA
Karel De Gucht spoke at the European Parliament plenary session last week on the recent agreement of the CETA deal between the EU and Canada, explaining the achievements of the agreement and addressing social, environmental, and labor concerns. De Gucht emphasized that the deal has the highest standards in any trade agreement ever agreed. (Europa)
TTIP- A Joint Paper by the Federal Ministry of Economics and the German Federation of Trade Unions
The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the German Federation of Trade Unions formulated their opinions on the “demands for free trade talks between the EU and the USA under the consideration of sustainability, labor rights and the granting of general interest” in a joint paper. The two parties agreed that an agreement must safeguard labor rights, protect consumers, and maintain high social and environmental standards. Moreover, they also agreed that TTIP offers a great opportunity to strengthen fair and sustainable transatlantic trade relations to boost the economies on both sides. (Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology) – Original article and paper in German
Controversy regarding the Free Trade Agreement
Members of the German Federal Parliament met today to debate on TTIP, often adopting opposing views. Federal Minister for Economy and Energy Sigmar Gabriel refuted the Left party’s accusations of a lack of transparency of TTIP negotiations, asking them if they are at all interested in an agreement. Gabriel underlined the opportunities TTIP offers for the German economy and insisted on continuing the negotiations. The Christian Democrats support his view, emphasizing the importance of TTIP for both the creation of jobs and a deepening of transatlantic relations.(German Federal Parliament) – Original article and video in German
Ambassador Gardner’s Remarks at the European Young Innovators’ Forum
Ambassador Gardner, the US Ambassador to the EU, gave a speech in Brussels yesterday at Unconvention 2014 regarding the current state of affairs of the tech industry in Europe. Ambassador Gardner cited access to debt financing and low returns for EU venture capital as issues for European small businesses and start-ups. Ambassador Gardner detailed recent positive initiatives and the heightened attention to entrepreneurial matters within the new Commission. He notes that while many legislative opportunities occur at the member-state level, the European Union plays a pivotal role in creating a single digital market. (United States Mission to the European Union)
For a video of an interview with Ambassador Gardner after his speech, click here.
Cameron to Nail ‘Myths’ About TTIP Leading To NHS Privatisation
UK Prime Minister David Cameron asserts that moving forward on TTIP is essential, stating that “our national security is also really dependent on our economic security,” according to the Huffington Post UK. Cameron emphasizes the economic benefits to the United Kingdom specifically, in addition to the United States and the wider European Union. He also strongly refuted opposition claims that TTIP would have anything to do with privatizing Britain’s National Health Services as public services are automatically exempted from all EU trade negotiations. (Huffington Post)
German Industry Calls for ‘Investment Offensive’ to Boost the Economy
Amid Germany’s current economic downturn, EurActiv Germany reports that German businesses view TTIP as a “historic opportunity” necessary to promote investment, along with other domestic policy measures including stability, tax cuts, and increased R&D spending. (Euractiv)
European Commission Denies Reports that Germany is Derailing CETA
Finbarr Bermingham of the International Business Times UK cites controversial reports stating that Germany attempted to halt the EU-Canadian trade agreement CETA over the inclusion of an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, which is also key German concern in TTIP negotiations. Germany denies the claims, stating that CETA is still on schedule, as Canadian and US officials meet in Canada tomorrow to finalize the text of the agreement. Concerns with the ISDS clause is not expected to derail the ultimate ratification of the final treaty. (International Business Times UK)
However, Reuters reports that Germany’s economy minister stated recently that Germany will not ratify CETA if it contains an ISDS clause. Read here for more details. This bears watching as it has direct implications for the investment chapter in TTIP.
Putin Warns Ukraine against Implementing EU Pact
Euractiv recently reported Putin’s recent warnings to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko regarding Russian economic retaliation if Ukraine implements legislation acting on the recent EU-Ukraine trade agreement. The implementation of the agreement is delayed until the end of 2015, providing time for the EU to alleviate Russian concerns and Putin to continue pushing for a cease-fire and closer economic ties between Ukraine and Russia. (Euractiv)
Eurozone Companies Urge Capitals to Reform Economies
Sarah Gordon and Peter Wise of the Financial Times outline the European private sector’s desire for rapid implementation of major structural reforms across the EU, as the actions of the European Central Bank alone are not enough to combat the lack of macroeconomic confidence needed to stimulate demand and spur growth. (Financial Times)
Italian Business Grows restless with Matteo Renzi
Rachel Sanderson of the Financial Times reports on the darkening perception of Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi among business leaders as the country continues to struggle to actually implement its reform agenda, and its recent return to recession. Renzi retains overall support from business leaders; however his lack of momentum is worrying. (Financial Times)
Silva to Seek Trade Deals for Brazil
Joe Leahy of the Financial Times reports on Brazilian presidential candidate Ms. Silva’s plans to prioritize the pursuit of US and EU trade deals and loosen the restrictions of the Mercosur South American trade bloc. Ms. Silva’s other economic plans, including fiscal responsibility and increasing funding for education and the environment, are preferred by investors when compared to those of Ms. Rousseff. (Financial Times)
Cross-Border Swap Dispute Risks Trade War, CFTC’s Giancarlo Says
Silla Brush of Bloomberg describes J. Christopher Giancarlo’s first speech since joining the CFTC, where he advises the United States to increase coordination with Europe on financial regulatory reform and to retract some uncoordinated regulatory reforms that have negatively affected transatlantic cooperation in recent years. (Bloomberg)
In Defense of TTIP: Good for the Economy – and for the Climate
This excellent piece by Carlo Stagnaro, adviser on energy and liberalization to Italy’s minister for economic development, gives a nice overview of how the conclusion of TTIP will not only bring economic benefits to both sides of the Atlantic but will also increase transatlantic energy security, promote environmental sustainability, and could help counter climate change. With his article, Stagnaro counters popular misperceptions of the way that trade in general and TTIP in particular could affect the environment. He also underlines that TTIP should not be viewed as just another trade agreement, concluding that a transatlantic deal has the potential to provide an excellent example for how nations work together on trade and sustainability moving forward. (Energy Post)
A Long Way to Go for TTIP Negotiations
This article and video by Radio Sweden discusses the geopolitical importance of TTIP for both the United States and the European Union, underlining the need for the two partners to combine their political weight in the international arena to set global standards. The experts believe that negotiations might speed up after November, when the EU Commission has settled in and the upcoming midterm US congressional elections are completed. (Sveriges Radio)
Ten Myths about TTIP
Denmark’s largest business association put together this concise summary of the ten most common misperceptions about TTIP, refuting them all in turn. The criticisms range from a perceived threat to democracy, to an alleged lowering of consumer standards, to an assumed threat to personal privacy. The author counters the points of criticism and concludes that TTIP will achieve common effective and modern standards and high levels of protection for consumers, workers and the environment, with a positive global impact. (Frihandelsbloggen)
Most Difficult Hearings for Commissioners-designate Cañete, Hill & Navracsics, argue the Greens
In this interview, ViEUw’s journalist Jennifer Baker and Helmut Weixler, spokesperson for the Greens Group discuss the current hearings of the Commissioners-designate in front of the European Parliament. According to the Greens, Commissioner designates Miguel Arias Cañete, Jonathan Hill, and Tibor Navracsics, face the most opposition and difficult hearings. The Greens also doubt if the new Commission’s focus on business and economic growth will lead Europe in the right direction. (ViEUws)
Trade Agreements: TTIP and European Partnership Agreements
In the context of the sixth TTIP negotiation round on September 29, the Dutch newspaper Oneworld will feature debates in the course of next week, addressing the effects, advantages and criticisms of the trade agreements Europe is currently negotiating. Their webpage also features helpful link to additional information and previous discussions on the matter. – Original article in Dutch (Oneworld)
Seventh Round of TTIP Negotiations – September 29 – October 3 in Washington DC – a political stock-taking between Ambassador Froman and Commissioner De Gucht will follow the talks on October 13. Stakeholder events will take place on Wednesday, October 1 as outlined below.
Shifting Patterns of Trade: TTIP and the South Atlantic – September 25 in Brussels; hosted by the German Marshall Fund- More Information
Jobs and Economic Growth for Indianapolis: How TTIP Will Help – September 26 in Indianapolis, IN; hosted by the Trans-Atlantic Business Council – More Information
TTIP: Does It Still Have Support in Europe? – September 29 in New York, NY; hosted by the European-American Business Organization and the American Business Forum on Europe – More Information
CHLI Trade & International Affairs Symposium – September 29 in Washington DC; hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute – More Information
Hearing of the European Commissioner for Trade & Panel Discussion – September 29 in Washington DC; hosted by the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations – More Information
What’s Next? Fostering the Next Generation of Energy Security Conference – September 30 in Washington DC; hosted by the American Security Project – More Information
Global Services Summit – September 30 in Washington DC; hosted by the Coalition of Services Industries; featuring remarks by many international Trade ministers – More Information
Stakeholder Policy Presentations During the 7th round of TTIP Negotiations – October 1 in Chevy Chase, MD; hosted by USTR and the European Commission – More Information
Stakeholder Forum During the 7th Round of TTIP Negotiations – Chief Negotiators’ Briefing – October 1 in Chevy Chase, MD; hosted by USTR and the European Commission – More Information
Challenges Facing the World Trade System – October 1 in Washington DC; hosted by Johns Hopkins SAIS – More Information
TTIP Roadshow, Sheffield: The US-EU Trade Negotiations and the Coalition for Transatlantic Business – October 1 in Sheffield, England; hosted by the British- American Business Association – More Information
TTIP: A Watershed Agreement with Far-Reaching Implications – October 2 in Philadelphia, PA; hosted by the British American Business Council – More Information
EMI TTIP Summit, Brussels – October 2 in Brussels; hosted by European Movement International – More Information
District Export Council’s Second Annual International Trade Symposium – October 3, Washington DC; hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce – More Information
The ECB and the Eurozone: A Conversation with Mario Draghi – October 9 in Washington DC; hosted by the Brookings Institute – More Information
The Next Stage of Eurozone Recovery: A Conversation with Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem – October 10 in Washington DC; hosted by the Atlantic Council – More Information
Launch of new Atlantic Council Publication: TTIP – Big Benefits for Small Companies – November 14 in Washington – More information forthcoming