Transatlantic trade talks between the European Union and the United States on the establishment of a comprehensive trade and investment agreement (TTIP) are surging ahead. For the fourth time, negotiators from Brussels and Washington met in mid-March to discuss how to proceed in bringing down trade barriers between the world's two largest economic blocs.
Less trade barriers for more economic growth
The EPP Group has always been driving the process of championing new growth and the creation of jobs. Abolishing transatlantic trade barriers offers a unique opportunity to do so.
According to a recent study by a London-based think-tank, the Centre for Economic Policy Research, the potential benefits of the trade agreement are staggering. The EU economy could see economic growth in the range of up to 119 billion Euro - per year.
Negotiating an agreement that safeguards EU standards
For sure, an agreement as complex as the TTIP requires careful evaluation. Already before talks began, the EPP Group's experts on international trade and foreign affairs - amongst them our standing Rapporteur (responsible for defining Parliament's position) for transatlantic trade issues, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl - met with their US counterparts as well as key officials in the European Commission, which is negotiating on the EU's behalf.
The key challenge now is to make sure that the agreement does not endanger EU standards in the areas of environmental protection or social rights, to name but two. Where other political groups, however, even wanted to prevent the start of negotiations due to such concerns - thus throwing away all potential benefits for the EU economy - we want to closely accompany the negotiating process and carefully analyse its outcome.
That's why on 2 April the EPP Group will hold a meeting with the EU's chief negotiator and his team of top aides to see how far the talks have come and take a first look at what has been agreed so far.
One thing is for sure: in the end, the European Parliament will have to vote on the final text of any treaty in a yes or no vote. We want to make sure Europe and its citizens get the best possible deal based on a thorough assessment of the agreement.