TTIP Round 7 Wraps up in DC as Hearings Heat up in Brussels
Hearings in Brussels, TTIP Discussions in Washington
There is a lot going on this week with regards to trade, and TTIP in particular on both sides of the Atlantic. Yesterday, the European Parliament continued its hearings, interviewing Lord Jonathan Hill, Commissioner- elect for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union. Lord Hill failed to convince members of Parliament and has been recalled for a second hearing. Today’s hearings started with Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner – designate for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs. Hearings are scheduled to proceed until October 7, after which the European Parliament will vote to either accept or reject the new Commission as a whole on October 22.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the seventh round of TTIP negotiations will continue near Washington, DC until Friday. USTR hosted a stakeholder forum yesterday to receive input and feedback from interested groups and civil society, along with a negotiator briefing updating stakeholders on progress made to date. The 7th round of negotiations will close with a media briefing held by the USTR on Friday, October 3.
Speeches and Official Announcements
Regulatory Component in TTIP – Key to Success
On September 30, 2014, the members of the EU Business Alliance for TTIP provided a written statement reaffirming their support for regulatory coherence and cooperation in TTIP for both economic and strategic reasons. (EU Business Alliance for TTIP)
CETA and TTIP- Major Opportunities for Germany and Europe
In her speech in front of the German Association for Wholesale, International Trade, and Services this Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reminded her audience of the 63rd anniversary of Germany joining the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on October 1, 1951. Now as much as then, open markets and free trade are a vital part of the German economy. “There is an infinite amount of good reasons to join TTIP”, Chancellor Merkel asserted. Merkel called the agreement a “win-win situation” for both sides and underlined its high importance for the recovery of the Eurozone. (German Federal Government) - Original article in German
Introductory Statement to the Press Conference
At a Governing Council meeting today in Naples, Italy, ECB President Mario Draghi unveiled new programs on asset-backed securities, and covered bond purchases motivated by weak economic growth and increased geopolitical risks. The ECB suggests this might dampen investor confidence and private investment. Draghi stressed insufficient progress in structural reforms, citing that further unconventional measures may be necessary to address a lengthy period of low inflation moving forward. (European Central Bank)
For details on the new ECB programs click here.
Hearing for Jonathan Hill, EU Commissioner-designate for the Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union
Calm and composed, confident yet lacking a detailed plan, Jonathan Hill failed to convince the European Parliament at his hearing. Hill shocked the Parliament on the topic of Eurobonds, admitting that he did not have a particularly well informed view to share at that moment. However, Hill also reassured the Parliament, describing himself as a pragmatic politician who works well with others, concluding that “I’m a doer, I’m not a great talker about things.” A full video and analysis of his hearing is available here. (BBC)
The online magazine European Voice wrote a detailed live blog, covering Jonathan Hill’s confirmation hearing as it happened.
This useful follow up article by the Financial Times summarizes Hill’s failure to fully convince the Parliament during his first hearing, and the unprecedented call for a second hearing.
Hearing for Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner-designate for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs
Pierre Moscovici, the former French finance minister, had difficulty distancing himself from France's economic problems during his hearing, despite emphasizing the importance of equal treatment of member states. Problem areas included French budgetary issues and his rhetoric similar to that of French President François Hollande.
You can watch the video of the hearing here.
The online magazine European Voice wrote a detailed live blog covering Moscovici’s confirmation hearing as it happened.
Find his offical opening statement here. - Document in French
A Euractiv article discusses Moscovici’s reassurances that there will be no special treatment for France.
US confident it can find Balance with EU on Investor Rights
After commissioner-designate Cecilia Malmström’s weekend controversy regarding the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause in TTIP, US officials restate the importance of the mechanism for the United States. (Reuters UK)
France and Italy Push for Fiscal Leniency
France and Italy are both missing EU imposed budgetary targets again, asking for time to work towards compliance with the European debt rules and causing concern in Germany. (Financial Times)
The new Polish Government: What to expect?
Ewa Kopacz, Poland’s new prime minister, spoke at the European Parliament yesterday, presenting her new government’s agenda. Regarding transatlantic relations, Kopacz supports TTIP because ““in the light of Ukrainian crisis it is crucial for both Poland and Europe to have stronger ties with the US.” (EU Observer)
SIFMA Writes Letter to Treasury Secretary Lew on the Importance of Including Financial Services in TTIP
In light of this week’s seventh round of TTIP negotiations, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) has written a letter to Treasury Secretary Lew, emphasizing the importance of including financial services in TTIP and urging the Secretary to demonstrate leadership going forward. Currently not part of the negotiations, cooperation on financial services regulations could help avoid future conflicts, SIFMA argues. The report referred to a recent Atlantic Council report calling for financial services to be integrated into TTIP acknowledging that divergent American and European regulatory practices have a negative impact on financial market efficiency. (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association)
TTIP: A Long Hard Road to Multilateralism?
This commentary by the European Policy Center, released before the start of this week’s TTIP negotiations, concludes that TTIP could have a positive effect on trade multilateralism and could serve to reinforce World Trade Organization (WTO) standards, provided that the agreement is reached with transparency and remains open to stakeholder engagement. Engaging third parties is especially important for US-EU leadership if the negotiated standards for TTIP are to be implemented elsewhere. (European Policy Centre)
Only Hypocrites Fight against the Free Trade Agreement
In her opinion piece, Dorothea Siems, chief correspondent for the German newspaper Die Welt, argues that most criticism by opponents of TTIP is simply pretense, sparked by a strong ideological feeling of anti-Americanism, which makes it increasingly difficult to counter prejudices with facts. She refutes the most common misperceptions with a particular focus on ISDS, and claims that TTIP offers great benefits for both the producer and the consumer. (Die Welt) – Original Article in German
Hearings Raise Questions of Credibility
In this editorial in the European Voice, the authors claim that the current hearings of the Commissioner-designates unveil two major flaws: partly due to short preparation time, members of Parliament have so far failed to ask crucial questions about the nominees’ experience, qualifications and future approach, and seem to be preoccupied with promoting themselves. In addition, the authors criticize the suitability of some commissioners for their portfolios and wonder if Juncker has set his Commission up to failure from the outset. (European Voice)
How America Is Made For Trade
HSBC just released their latest report “How America is Made For Trade” today, alongside their final Made for Trade event in DC. The report covers many important aspects of trade, including the TTIP and TPP, which the report states that “the United States should exert maximum effort to close.” In addition to the commonly discussed benefits of these agreements, the report highlights a resulting increase of America’s export capacity, whereby companies exports will be more competitive out of the United States. (HSBC)
Will the World’s largest Agreement Come to Fruition?
Swedish lawyer Jan Frydman discusses the ongoing negotiations between the European Union and the United States, providing an excellent overview over previous attempts to eliminate barriers between the two economies. He explains how the complex interplay between trade, law, politics and the public opinion often lead to the failure of such negotiations. The author thinks that the continuing economic crisis and geopolitical considerations, combined with the importance of setting global standards, competition from emerging economies and TTIP's potential to boost multilateral negations in the WTO will ultimately lead to the success of TTIP. (Advokaten) – Original article in Swedish
A Lesson from ACTA: Pro-Free Traders Need to be Pro-Transparency
In his opinion piece, Sean Flynn from the Atlantic Community makes the case for increased transparency in the TTIP negotiations, drawing on the example of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement which ultimately failed due to the secrecy of the process. Flynn argues that TTIP negotiators should not make the same mistake; he sees increased transparency and an opening up of the negotiations to the public as the only possibility to finally demonstrate that their interests are not being threatened by TTIP. (Atlantic Community)
For another interesting take on transparency in TTIP negotiations, read the article by Holger Janush, who evaluates the costs for negotiators imposed by open negotiations.
Seventh Round of TTIP Negotiations – September 29 - October 3 in Washington DC.
2014 EU SME Assembly: Growth Through Enterprise - October 3 in Naples, Italy; hosted by the European Commission - More Information
District Export Council's Second Annual International Trade Symposium - October 3, Washington DC; hosted by the US Chamber of Commerce - More Information
Seizing up the Digital Economy - October 6, Washington DC; hosted by The Greater Washington DC Chapter of the Internet Society and the Institute for International Economic Policy of George Washington University - More Information
Conference: The New Transatlantic Market: Game Changers, Opportunities and Risks - October 8 in London; hosted by the British American Business Association - More Information
The ECB and the Eurozone: A Conversation with Mario Draghi - October 9 in Washington DC; hosted by the Brookings Institute - More Information
Growth and Austerity: Can the Eurozone Have Both?- October 9 in Washington DC; hosted by the Bertelsmann Foundation - 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
Transatlantic Free Trade: the final push? British, French and US perspectives on a TTIP agreement - October 13 in London; hosted by the Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies - More Information
Launch of new Atlantic Council Publication: TTIP - Big Benefits for Small Companies – November 14 in Washington – More information forthcoming