Discussion with Dr. Beate Merk

On April 10, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program hosted an off-the-record conversation with Dr. Beate Merk, Bavaria’s minister for European and International Affairs. Dr. Fran Burwell moderated the discussion between Dr. Merk and an esteemed group of government officials and business leaders, which touched upon key areas of divergence on ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations and potential paths to overcoming these sticking points.

The event comes in the wake of the release of The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: On Track but Off Message? The report, which was the result of a collaboration between the Atlantic Council and Bertelsmann Foundation, found that, while 85 percent of stakeholders surveyed believe that an agreement will be reached, the notion that it will be a broad, comprehensive agreement is considerably less certain. The most important issue for negotiations, the survey concluded, is the significant reduction or outright elimination of tariffs. The event also transpired within days of the release of a Pew Research report, which found that public opinions in both Germany and the United States are generally in favor of a TTIP agreement and broader trade expansion. However, the report also notes that there are areas of divergence, particularly with regards to transatlantic regulatory standards. Data privacy in particular has become a hot button issue. As such, the conversation with Dr. Merk could not have been timelier.

Dr. Merk assumed her role as the Bavarian Minister for European and International Affairs in October 2013. She is currently a member of the Bavarian state parliament and also a member the executive council of the Christian Socialist Union. Ms. Merk has served in state and local governments in some capacity since 1984. She received a doctorate in Law from Würzberg University.