Resetting the Transatlantic Economic Council

The Trans-Atlantic Economic Council (TEC) is at a crossroads.  It has great potential as a forum for discussing strategic issues between the United States and Europe but is often bogged down in single-issue gridlock.
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In light of the role for the G20 in financial regulation, economic development, energy and climate issues, strong U.S.-EU cooperation within the TEC is increasingly essential.  Progress at the October 2009 gathering will provide an important indication of how transatlantic economic integration will move forward.

This publication, a joint effort of the Atlantic Council and the Bertelsmann Foundation, is intended as a contribution to advancing the integration of the transatlantic economy.  Atlantic Council experts unveiled the report on the Hill for the House EU Caucus.


Agenda-setting for the TEC

Focus on Energy and the Green Sector.

  • Develop a strategic “path away from oil”
  • Determine the economic consequences of shifting to a low‐carbon economy
  • Enhance R&D cooperation
  • Coordinate environmental standards
  • Ensure the interoperability of cap‐and‐trade programs
  • Guarantee that any transatlantic energy cooperation works together with the TEC

Work together on transatlantic and third-country IPR development and patent protection.

  • Coordinate IPR protection for emerging sectors
  • Consult on green‐technology transfer
  • Align U.S. and EU policy on counterfeit goods and protecting IPR in third countries
  • Encourage cooperation between regulators and legislators on patent reform

Promote e-Health and medical record regulatory coordination.

  • Ensure the interoperability of standard measures and fields

Coordinate on new regulation of financial services and investment.

  • Initiate transatlantic impact assessments
  • Forge a cross-cutting coalition
  • Develop guidelines for a common approach to FDI barriers
  • Break down existing and emerging barriers to bilateral investment.

Address issues of mutual interest in the regulation of food safety.

  • Coordinate standards, particularly for import compliance
  • Create a working group for food safety
  • Coordinate technical assistance to third countries on meeting SPS standards

TEC 2.0: Institutional Reform

Designate the U.S. Vice President and European Commission President as Co‐chairs of the TEC.

  • The United States should move the ceremonial chair to the office of the Vice President
  • The TEC EU Chairmanship should be under the direct purview of the President of the Commission

Create a two‐track system to make the TEC a strategic forum on broad economic challenges.

  • Track I: Principals’ Strategic Engagement
  • Track II: Deputies’ Technical Engagement

Guard against protectionism in transatlantic trade and investment.

  • Foster dialogue on coordinating the role of the state in the economy
  • Define when and where state intervention in the economy is warranted (including company bailouts) and identify the methodology for making this assessment
  • Work to close the gap between U.S. and EU approaches to anti‐trust and competition policy
  • Discuss the potential for a Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)

Better engage the legislative branches.

Outline specific roles for involved stakeholders such as the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) and Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD).

Incorporate labor into the stakeholder process by engaging with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and relevant U.S. labor organizations.

Create permanent coordinating bureaus in Washington, D.C., and Brussels.

  • Create an open mapping of the approximately 27 trans‐Atlantic working groups related to the TEC process
  • Consult with EU member‐state governments and U.S. state governments

Place greater emphasis on stock‐taking, evaluation, and follow up.

  • Emphasize regular progress reports to the co-chairs between TEC meetings
  • Take stock of previously signed agreements between the United States and EU

Create a Web 2.0 presence for the TEC.

Emphasize the complementarity of the TEC and the U.S.‐EU Summit.


Photo by Flickr user ScriS under Creative Commons license.