2015 promises to be a pivotal year for the TTIP negotiations, and global trade generally. After a (hopefully) restful holiday season, a new Congress is coming to a snow-covered Washington today — and the European Union is returning to work in Brussels to outline its goals for 2015. Trade is high on both agenda, as it should be. Difficult election campaigns in Greece, Spain, the UK and (next year) the United States mean that significant progress towards TTIP is necessary should it see the light of day in the near future.
Winning over public opinion will be among the most important tasks in the year ahead. The graph to the right shows widespread public support for TTIP across Europe according to the latest Eurobarometer polls, but also highlights where more effort is needed — chiefly in Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg.
As always, TTIP Action will be here to help provide the latest news and analysis, and positive pressure on the negotiating teams to keep up the momentum. We’re also working on a number of in-house research projects to help make the case for an agreement and how it could help both the EU and the US economically and geopolitically. Here’s to an ambitious and successful year ahead. We’re looking forward to working with all of you!
Eurobarometer: Who’s For and Against TTIP in Europe?
Last fall, Eurobarometer asked Europeans whether they were in favor or against a free trade and investment agreement with the United States. Europeans, especially from Eastern, Southern, and Northern Europe, were largely in favor. Overall 58% of EU citizens support the idea of TTIP, while 25% are against. 17% admitted they don’t know enough about the agreement to have an opinion. Only in Austria were a majority (53%) of respondents against the idea. (Borderlex)
See the Eurobarometer polling data in its entirety here.
Online Shopping Spotlights Trade Wishes for Small Businesses
Just in time for the holiday season, the rise in online shipping and exporting brought the importance of trade issues onto Main Street and into living rooms across the world. For many small firms, online business is a life blood to keep the lights on, hire employees, and stay in operation. However, when their customers are abroad, the difficulties of exporting and administrative costs involved can make things difficult. Reuters notes that agreements like TTIP could help US and European SMEs do business across the Atlantic by simplifying rules and raising duty-free limits. (Reuters)
Brinksmanship Returns to the Eurozone
Greece’s upcoming elections are putting the Eurozone crisis back on the front page of global newspapers. The left-wing Syriza Party which leads the polls is threatening to cut back on Greece’s debt payments, flaunting the agreements made between Greece and its international lenders, including other EU member-states and the ECB. In recent days, France and Germany have stepped up their rhetoric underlining that they will not accept a change in the terms of the Greek bailout–making the exit of Greece from the Eurozone perhaps more likely than ever. (Wall Street Journal)
Trade’s Big Breakout
While much of the Congressional and Presidential policy agenda may be temporarily put on ice, trade seems to be one of the major points of agreement between President Obama and the new Republican majority in Congress. Politico sees 2015 as potentially the year of the trillion-dollar trade agreement, with action on Trade Promotion Authority likely to come in the early part of the year. TPA is a major focus for both the Administration and Congressional leaders. Progress in the TPP and TTIP negotiations should follow. (Politico)
A Comeback Strategy for Europe
Former Swedish Prime and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt along with former EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana make a compelling case for concluding an ambitious TTIP agreement–warning that a significant decline in Europe’s geopolitical and economic stature is at hand if the talks should fail. With TPP talks progressing between the United States and the Asia-Pacific, Europe must be careful not to miss this opportunity. Public opinion must be won over, and myths about TTIP must be dispelled so that the agreement can move forward with the support of voters across Europe. (Project Syndicate)
Why 2015 Should Be the Year of Trade
Mark Kennedy writes that TPP and TTIP offer excellent opportunities for the United States to reengage diplomatically and economically with important allies in both Asia and Europe in the face of aggressive nationalism from both China and Russia. Moreover, these agreements offer compelling cases for how they will revitalize growth and create jobs both at home and abroad, making their cases compelling for both the Congress and President Obama. (Foreign Policy)
England Awaits the Kingmaker
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is going to have an outsized impact on this May’s elections in the United Kingdom. If she is willing to play along with Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to somewhat renegotiate the UK’s place within the EU, it will significantly strengthen his hand and his reelection campaign. If, however, Cameron is seen as being completely on his own in Europe, his political opponents from UKIP and Labour will gain significantly. Merkel is traveling to London this week to discuss where the two leaders can agree — and one thing is clear, both are adamant that TTIP is necessary to reinvigorate growth within Europe, as well as help make the case that Britain should remain at the heart of the European Union. (Handelsblatt)
Obama’s Trade Chief, Undaunted by Odds, Pushes for TPP
The New York Times has an excellent piece about US Trade Representative Michael Froman and his tireless efforts to convince Congress and the American people about the benefits of expanding trade for their districts, their businesses, and their wallets. Froman has carved out a unique and effective negotiating style with partner countries and with members of Congress of both parties. His new challenge? Getting the President to be as active as he has been in convincing Congress and the general public about the need for progress on TPP and TTIP. (New York Times)
How Can the US Secure Trade Deals?
Charles Hankla makes a compelling case for compromise across Pennsylvania Avenue leading to the quick passage of Trade Promotion Authority which would accomplish the goals of both the new Congress and the Obama Administration. He does an excellent job outlining the critical steps necessary as well as introducing the key players involved, as well as why their interests align in this instance. (World Economic Forum)
A Case for ISDS Under the Proposed TTIP
Jessi Patton, at American University’s Washington College of Law, presents the best case I’ve seen so far for the inclusion of ISDS in TTIP, including a very clear description of why it’s both necessary and will not lead to any sort of inability of governments on either side of the Atlantic to regulate where they see fit. There is an excellent historical overview of the issue and a compelling list of reasons of how TTIP can help modernize, strengthen, and reform the international dispute settlement system. Highly recommended. (American University Washington College of Law)
A New Era for Transatlantic Trade
Last month, CBI hosted a high level gathering of European leaders including Prime Ministers Cameron (UK), Thorning-Schmidt (Denmark), Stubb (Finland), Renzi (Italy), and Rajoy (Spain) to reaffirm their strong commitment to concluding an ambitious TTIP agreement. CBI presented the views of the business sector who view TTIP as a vital tool to promote economic recovery in Europe, as well as the future prosperity of European citizens. Since the agreement could add up to 120 billion euro to the European economy each year, it is obviously a key priority for both business and governmental leaders across Europe. (Confederation for British Industry)
Download the full paper outlining the positive economic effects of TTIP put together by CBI here.
Saving Europe (Again): The European Financial Crisis Continues – January 7 in Washington; hosted by the Brookings Institution – More Information
TTIP: Impacts on Agriculture and Food in the US, the EU, and Beyond – January 9 in Washington; hosted by the Ecologic Institute – More Information
Economic Diplomacy: How Economic Ties Can Strengthen National Security – January 15 in Washington; hosted by the American Security Project – More Information
The Second Annual EU-US Trade Conference: TTIP Where Now for the EU-US Trade Deal? – February 5 in Brussels; hosted by Forum Europe – More Information