Transcript: Chief Negotiators Dan Mullaney and Ignacio Garcia Bercero Hold a Press Conference Following the Fourth Round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Negotiations
March 14, 2014
SPOKESPERSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for coming to this afternoon on the record press conference with the two chief negotiators: on the behalf of the EU, Ignacio Bercero and on the behalf of the US, Dan Mullaney.
Helen is passing around a joint leaflet on the benefit of SMEs on the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership so I invite you to take a look on that and it will be on line as soon as we can.
I invite Ignacio to open with a few words…
MR. BERCERO: Thank you very much. Good afternoon.
Today, we are concluding the first T-TIP negotiating round of 2014, a few weeks after the meeting between Commissioner De Gucht and Ambassador Froman, where they have reviewed the overall state of play of our negotiations.
In terms of substance, during the week, negotiators have had comprehensive discussions on all the three pillars of this agreement: market access, the regulatory cluster and rules issues. This is a single undertaking and we are seeking a high level of ambition across the three pillars.
On the first pillar of market access, during the week, our negotiators have discussed the three core elements: tariffs, services and procurement.
On tariffs we have already had an initial exchange of offers but this is not yet the case on services and procurement. During this week we have had discussions on how to move forward on all the three market access areas.
On the regulatory pillar, we had in-depth discussions on both the horizontal and sectoral aspects. We are convinced that delivering in both areas is critical for a successful TTIP. Negotiators, always accompanied by regulators, have been jointly engaging on all streams of this cluster. On the horizontal aspects, there have been two days of full discussions on regulatory coherence between broad cross section of experts and regulators to see how regulatory compatibility can be increased. In addition there have been two days of discussions on Technical Barriers to Trade, in which both sides have already presented textual proposals; and two days of discussion on SPS which should prepare the ground for an exchange of textual proposals in this area.
As you are aware, in the T-TIP framework, the EU and the US have also agreed to work on greater regulatory compatibility in some key sectors of specific economic interest. Discussions covered several sectors such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, medical devices, automotives and chemical sectors, among others.
Third the rules pillar, we have also had extensive discussions across the different rules issues- I will not list them all but I will just give you four examples.
First, sustainable development, labour and environment, where our negotiating teams have been meeting on every single day of this week to work out innovative disciplines in these areas which could build on what is already covered by our existing EU and US trade agreements.
Second, trade in energy and raw materials. This is an area of critical economic and political importance. The EU considers that it would important to develop an agreed framework on this issue within T-TIP. We continue to engage with our American friends and have reiterated the importance of a restriction free environment for the supply of energy and raw materials and highlighted the need for a transparent and predictable market framework fostering trade and investment.
Third customs and trade facilitation, simplifying and streamlining procedures in this area is something which businesses on both sides of the Atlantic have asked for. It is no surprise that lengthy and complex customs clearance procedures disproportionally affect small businesses and put obstacles in the way of our entrepreneurs. We want to ensure that TTIP delivers concrete savings here.
Last, but certainly not the least, and very much in the same vein, I would like to highlight the progress we have made this week on our common agenda of improving the business climate for ‘small and medium-sized enterprises.
Smaller businesses in our economies constitute the bulk of employment - 2 out of three jobs in the private sector in the EU - and are the backbone of our economies (99% of EU businesses). T-TIP is also about helping these entrepreneurs grow – resulting in increased jobs and growth on both sides of the Atlantic.
That is the reason Commissioner De Gucht and Ambassador Froman have instructed us to explore mechanisms that we can include – within a dedicated chapter in the agreement – to make it easier for SMEs to take advantage of the gains from TTIP.
This is a first time for the European Union and it demonstrates how seriously we are taking the issue.
I am pleased to say that we are releasing today a joint EU-US document that outlines how we think that SMEs will benefit from the agreement, as well as how we plan to help them do so.
There are copies available in the room and they will also be available on our T-TIP website.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we have to deliver successfully on what I have just outlined, we need input and feedback from our stakeholders. And this means ensuring their voices are heard.
Within the EU we are constantly seeking to improve our civil society consultation mechanisms. In February we launched the TTIP Advisory Group - composed of experts from the broad cross section of civil society - trade unions, industry, consumer groups, environmental groups etc. We will continue to work on improving our engagement with civil society.
As you are aware during each negotiating round – whether it takes place in Brussels or Washington - we try to have a joint engagement with civil society. In each successive round, we have tried to find ways of enhancing this engagement. And this has been no exception during this week.
On Wednesday we hosted two different events to further enrich this engagement with civil society.
The first event provided an opportunity for negotiators to interact and listen to 90 different stakeholder presentations, thus providing a platform for stakeholders to engage directly and in some detail with the negotiating team in question. The feedback I have received from my different negotiating teams has been very positive and certainly a lot of food for thought has come from these discussions.
Later in that same day, the Chief Negotiators, Dan and I had the opportunity to engage directly with over 300 stakeholders. Over a two hour session, Dan and I have tried to give our perspective on the status of negotiations and next steps and answered questions raised by the different participants.
I believe our efforts have been broadly well received; we have seen a high participation and interest from stakeholders. And here we will continue to innovate and to see how we can do things better as this negotiation progresses.
Last, and to close, I would like to say that our engagement during this week and in the preparatory phase leading to the round, demonstrates our joint commitment to continue to make a steady progress in all areas of TTIP throughout the year.
We have agreed on the need to convene for next round of talks in Washington before the summer and will come back to you as soon as possible with identified dates. In the meantime, discussions between our negotiating teams and our respective stakeholders will continue to ensure continuous progress.
Thank you very much.
MR. MULLANEY: Good afternoon.
First, I want to start by thanking Ignacio and his colleagues for hosting us so graciously this week in Brussels. Our teams have worked very hard and very successfully this week, facilitated by the Commission’s excellent collaboration and by the typical Brussels sunny weather. Thank you for that.
In meetings with Commissioner de Gucht last month, as Ignacio mentioned, U.S. Trade Representative Froman reiterated our strong resolve to include an ambitious and comprehensive agreement in these negotiations. As I said, our negotiators have worked long hours toward this goal in all of the areas of the negotiations. Ignacio just provided a good summary of this week’s work so I do not need to repeat it. Let me just draw your attention to a few points.
First, as a general matter across the board, negotiators in all of the negotiating groups continued their exploration of the proposals that have been made in previous rounds, and preparing for, and in some cases, continuing textual discussions.
Secondly, as in previous rounds, negotiators spent a great deal of time this week seeking to advance our joint goal of reducing or eliminating barriers to trade that arise from unnecessary regulatory divergences between the United States and Europe; a goal that, I have to emphasize, must be achieved without any diminution of our high levels of protection for the environment, for labor rights, for consumers, for public health and safety. Discussions in this area covered tools that cut across all regulatory and standards processes – such as transparency, openness and other areas – as well as issues that are more relevant to specific sectors, and Ignacio laid out some of the sectors.
Fourth, I do want to highlight an area also mentioned by Ignacio: small- and medium-sized businesses.
Both the U.S. and the EU share a strong commitment to expanding the participation of small and medium sized businesses in transatlantic trade and investment. Small businesses in the US are engines of growth, job creation and innovation--and that is also true in Europe, so on both sides of the Atlantic.
Small businesses that engage in international trade grow faster, they pay higher wages, and they add jobs more quickly than those that serve purely domestic markets.
The joint document that we are releasing today includes examples of SMEs on both sides that are already benefitting from U.S.-EU trade, and can expect even greater opportunities from a T-TIP agreement.
Finally, in what is a regular and I have to say ever-evolving feature of our rounds, our negotiators participated on Wednesday in sessions featuring presentations on a wide variety of topics by nearly a hundred representatives from environmental, consumer, and other non-governmental organizations, and from labor unions, companies, and academia. As Ignacio said, we then briefed and answered questions during a meeting with more than 300 stakeholder representatives. We feel a sound and inclusive trade policy requires solid stakeholder support, and that requires a two-way dialogue with a wide variety of stakeholders; this dialogue has been a feature of all our rounds to date.
But we are always looking for ways to improve. In the stakeholders’ session for this round, for instance, we expanded the direct negotiator-to-stakeholder engagement and interaction beyond what we have had in previous rounds.
In this same vein, earlier this week the USTR issue a document elaborating in some detail, on a subject by subject basis, what we hope to achieve in this negotiation. And we also announced a new process for engagement with stakeholders, providing them with an opportunity to share their views by e-mail on T-TIP and other U.S. trade policy initiatives. We look very much forward to hearing from stakeholders as our negotiations continue.
In addition, last month USTR announced the formation of a new Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee (PITAC) that will provide a new conduit for experts’ advice on issues like public health, development, and consumer safety. This advisory committee will join our Labor Advisory Committee and our Trade and Environment Policy Committee, among other advisory committees, in providing a cross-cutting platform for input to U.S. negotiators.
We are also re-chartering our current advisory committees, and have opened the door to further diversifying their membership.
It’s been a very good week; our negotiators have worked hard. We expect to continue to make strong progress in the months to come.
Thank you very much.
SPOKESPERSON: Thank you both Dan and Ignacio for your introduction. We have now 40 minutes to take questions from you all. I would like you to state your name and media organizations so that both negotiators with whom they are speaking.
We are going to keep for this 40 minutes period; therefore I would like you to keep your questions to one per person please. I will start here please with Reuters…
JOURNALIST: A question for Dan and a question for Ignacio. Dan, commissioner De Gucht said that the US must match the EU’s offer on tariff liberalization…is the US ready to do that? And for Ignacio: did you make any progress this week on negotiating the energy chapter in the T-TIP? Thank you.
MR. MULLANEY: Thank you for that question. Our goal in the negotiation is to achieve a comprehensive and ambitious agreement. For us that means the elimination of all duties. For us the main focus is the end point of the negotiations, not its initial steps. We are in negotiations, but the end point for us is a comprehensive agreement that eliminates duties.
MR. BERCERO: Yes as I said we had two full days of discussion on the issue of including a chapter within the agreement on energy and raw materials. For the time being, we are discussing on the substance the different provisions that could be a way of having a clear component relating to trade energy and raw materials, within the context of the T-TIP.
I think the discussions have been positive and have been very constructive. We have not yet reached the point in which we can say that both of us have identified the chapter which is moving forward but I think we are having a good engagement on the substance and on the use which is, as I indicated, of economic and political importance.
JOURNALIST: To get a bit more specific: Did your team talk this week about geographical products like the famous Feta cheese and if so, what is the current state of play?
MR. BERCERO: Yes, we had a discussion on this issue, which is, as you may know, of great importance to the EU. Traditionally, the US and the EU have had divergence approaches. We believe that the TTIP is an opportunity to find a move forward and we believe on the basis of pragmatism from both sides and that we will be able to find a satisfactory solution. But we are still in a preparatory phase of this.
MR. MULLANEY: This is an issue we have addressed for a long time. I should point out that products in the EU that benefit from geographical indications do very well in the US; their sales have been increasing in the past few years and they do receive protection in the US, particularly under the trade mark and other systems. But we are, as Ignacio said, in the early stage of these discussions. Both sides are focusing on pragmatism in this area.
JOURNALIST: Just wanted to ask about ISDS mechanism? The German government seems this week to have taken the position that it wants to see an ISDS provision excluded from TTIP. They told us this morning that this is their official position. I wonder Dan if you could tell us if the US can accept a T-TIP without an ISDS provision and Ignacio if you want to follow up on that?
MR. MULLANEY: In our view, a comprehensive 21st century trade and investment partnership agreement should include appropriate protections for investors on both sides of the Atlantic. For us, that does include methods for dispute settlement, both in the state-to0-state and the investor-state contexts. We do think it is important, however, that these provisions respect the regulatory space -- that nothing that we do to provide the investor protections that investors expect will interfere with the regulatory space.
We several years ago, in 2009, had a consultation with a Federal register solicitation and accepted views from the public on how we reach this balance, on respecting regulatory space and providing protections for investors. That resulted in a model text that we have been using in our free trade agreement since then. In this negotiation, we issued a Federal register notice in January 2012 and more officially for this negotiation in April 2013 and got many comments on investor-state dispute settlement and on how we reached that balance. We had several days of hearings on this issue.
So we think that it is something that is important. We do respect the EU consultation process. We do respect the fact that stakeholders need to be satisfied that we are achieving this balance between protecting investors and protecting the space of regulators to regulate in the public interest.
MR. BERCERO: Let me just say that I have nothing to comment on the position of the German government which has been officially communicated. But I would like to make three points.
The first one is that the Commission has received a mandate by the Council of Ministers unanimously agreed to explore with the US the inclusion of investment protection and ISVS in the T-TIP. And we are working on the basis of the mandate that has been given to us by the authorities of the member states.
The second point that I would like to make and that you have indicated – we expect to launch a public consultation on this matter before the end of this month. This would include our ideas, our suggestions, how to establish an investment protection and an ISVS system which fully respect the right of regulate of the EU, its member states and indeed of course the US.
We believe this is an opportunity to come forward with a much improved model in terms of investment protection, […?..] settlement which must clear a provision on this standard of investment protection to avoid the risk of abusive interpretations, which must clear the provisions on transparency, avoiding conflict of interests; and we therefore consider that we will look forward to this consultation and see the comments that we have been presented there by the stakeholders and once the consultation has been concluded, within a 90 day period, go back to the member states to discuss the way forward.
JOURNALIST: Dan, I have a question for you about the public procurement discussions. First of all, could you give us just a little bit more of an idea of what was discussed during this week. My idea was…what the EU is looking for is a signal that you can convince your state authorities to grant access to your public procurement markets for European companies – how much can you talk about now without that guarantee from the states? And at what point can you or do you foresee giving a signal to the EU on whether or not they can have that access? And very quickly if I may to both of you…when can we expect tariff office on services? Thank you.
MR. MULLANEY: Thank you, Poppy. On public procurement, in the High Level Working Group final report we both agreed that we would be seeking substantial additional market access in the procurement area. The EU has been very clear that this is a desire of theirs. We ourselves also made clear that we have requests in this area. So this is something that is of mutual interest.
What we have to discuss during these rounds is in part what would be the priorities and the goals; what would be the texts and the requirements that you would set out in a government procurement chapter. So those conversations are happening and advancing.
As you know, at the sub-central level, moving forward on this would require us to talk to our states. We have been having conversations on this with them in the scope of this negotiation. And as the negotiations move forward, we anticipate being in a position to talk about the priorities that the European side has communicated to us, as we are confident the Europeans are going to be taking our priorities into account.
MR. BERCERO: I think that it is well known that for the EU public procurement is one of our co interests in this negotiation. It is one of the three key components on market access and we believe that it is important to achieve ambitious results in all three components.
By the way it is not limited to a state level; there are also important issues to be discussed at a central level. And I think that our negotiators have been discussing all aspects of public procurement.
From our point of view, the fundamental objective would be to avoid discrimination in public procurement so that European and American firms can be treated on an equal foot in procurement and in markets.
We are not yet in the position to indicate to you the time or when the next steps will be taken. As I said in my initial statement, we are consulting in terms of identifying the next steps on tariff services and procurement.
JOURNALIST: If I can go back on tariff offers on goods…Ignacio, the European offer was more ambitious than the American one but is the EU ready to eliminate all the duties like Dan said earlier? Thank you.
MR. BERCERO: the EU is fully committed to the ambition of the high level working report which, as you know perfectly well, indicates that in the course of the negotiations both sides should consider options for the treatment of the most sensitive products. And it has always been clearly understood that these options include different possibilities, for instance tariff […?...] quarters.
JOURNALIST: You mentioned briefly the terms of energy and opening energy chapter but I was wondering given in the light of the developments in the Ukraine, Crimea, and various states on both sides of the Atlantic, whether there were any greater effects in terms of easing the export restrictions in the US on gas, whether it is something that you mentioned and whether that can be looked at more favorably now?
Thank you for that. Clearly the T-TIP negotiations offer opportunities to increase liberalization of trade in energy and raw materials. Under US law, for instance, exports of natural gas are deemed to be in the public interest for a trading partner that provides in the free trade agreement national treatment with respect to natural gas.
So clearly the T-TIP negotiations can offer opportunities for increased liberalization. Whether or not these sales materialize depends on private sector actors and international pricing.
MR. BERCERO:A short comment on this. As I said before, we have had discussions on the issue and have indicated that for us legal security about access to energy and gas is a very important issue because in order to trade and to develop; the greater security that you have to access, the more you can develop the investments that are needed for trade to flow.
JOURNALIST: So this is the reason why there is no trade and gas between the US and the EU? The regulation in the US…can you explain that more in details? And I would like to know if the fuel quality directive is on the table or not?
MR. MULLANEY: I would say that the situation with natural gas at this point – and, as I mentioned, for trade partners with whom we have a free trade agreement that provides national treatment -- exports are deemed to be in the national interest. For other partners, they are presumed to be in the national interest. So there is a system run by the Department of Energy for those exports which are available now, and, as I mentioned before, it is a question of whether or not there are customers, whether there are buyers, whether the pricing is such that a sale would occur.
MR. BERCERO: …We did not have any discussion this week on the fuel quality directive and the Commission is still considering the proposal to make on this matter.
JOURNALIST: Tariff on goods... At the moment, you have not had exceptional [...?..] for the goods. Will you have exceptions in the future?
MR. BERCERO: At this time, both offers include certain tariff lines which are here undefined or other treatment and this tends to be in some cases sort of sensitivity. I do not think that we have yet reach a stage to determine what particular treatment would be given to those different products.
JOURNALIST: I have two questions on two different fields. One is on chemicals. You have heard from the stakeholders that this Wednesday from an NGO and EU chemical industry quite different views on how this could work and you mentioned that you talked about it this week. So I was wandering if you could give us a few updates on what are the targets when it comes to regulations and chemical industry? And also two trade organizations for chemical industry on both sides of the Atlantic have said that they were requested by the regulators to provide texts that could go into an annex, which is very close to a legal text? So I was wandering if you could confirm that the negotiators have asked the industry to provide actual texts that are going to the T-TIP agreement?
And the second one on and off is about the contents and standards? When it comes to services do you see anything that could help accountants work on both sides of the Atlantic easier? And is there any view that the US and the EU were approached in terms of accounting standards as they are very different at the moment? Thank you.
MR. BERCERO: … Let me focus first on the issue of chemicals. I was actually present when the 2 presentations that you refer to were presented in the stakeholders’ session and I think it could be made as an example about how we could have a very good dialogue and with different perspectives it could be presented.
The first thing to clarify is that there was never any request by the regulators to present a text proposal. Industry from both sides submitted already quite some time ago jointly prepared ideas about elements which could be active in terms of greater regulatory compatibility.
Those ideas - that are not confidential but publicly available - are being discussed by the regulators on both sides, in order to identify to what extent they required the careful analysis of the different suggestions made by the regulators.
One point which has been very clear in this whole chemical discussions – and from the very beginning and this is one thing the US and the EU fully share – is that there cannot be a question of compromising the level of environmental protections of chemicals that have reached in many respects a stricter regulation which apply in the US and Tosca. And because the difference of level of protection, there can be no question of harmonizing or indeed having mutual recognition in the chemical sector. This does not mean that is impossible to identify practical steps to facilitate life both for business and regulators. A lot of the […?...] have been focused on identifying the estate without compromising the level of protection could reduce a necessary duplication.
For instance, this is possible for the environmental protection agency of the US and the European chemical agencies to better cooperate in order to identify chemicals which are of priorities for both sides. This is possible to rely on common data which is provided by the industry to both regulators.
All of these are practical scenes which are being examined and in any case, regulators are looking at these from the point of view of how far this can be achieved in full accordance with the basic legislations and in full accordance with their own regularization.
This is the type of issues which is examined in the chemical sectors and indeed there are other examples of those types of ideas.
I have to say that I am not very familiar with this issue of accountancy standards; I have taken notes of your comments…maybe Dan knows more about data but I am afraid I am not in the position to reply to that question…
MR. MULLANEY: Thank you. Unfortunately, I did not benefit from being at that stakeholder presentation, because there were 4 simultaneous presentations going on in different rooms on different themes, and I believe I was in the food safety session at that point.
But I think that what Ignacio said is accurate. It is a useful issue to focus on, and in different sectors, different approaches to reducing costs are going to be appropriate. So what is appropriate in the chemical sectors -- and you gave a few examples: data sharing, information sharing, sharing of tests results -- could be appropriate. In other sectors, such as […?...], medical devices and pharmaceuticals, the approach could be different, and you may be able to try approaches in certain areas such as mutual recognition or equivalence; you could have recognition of conformity assessments. There is a range of tools that we can use to reduce these costs, and no one tool is going to be appropriate for all of the different sectors.
But one point that Ignacio made and which is very important to underscore is that whatever we do to reduce the costs and the barriers due to regulatory divergences, it cannot be to the detriment of the level of protection that each of us has adopted for our citizens.
On accountancy, we are engaging in a discussion of trying to open the broadest variety of services to trade. I also do not know specifically where we are in the discussions in those areas, but that would certainly be one of the areas where we will be trying to liberalize trade.
Could you perhaps tell us when you expect the agreement? Are we talking 2015 or 2016 perhaps? Thank you.
MR. MULLANEY: We are moving on a very good pace. We started the negotiations within about two weeks after the Commission got its mandate and we finished our consultations. We had 3 rounds in 2013, in July, November and in December. We had the check-in meeting, between Ambassador Froman and Commissioner De Gucht in February, and here we are in the 4th round. So we are moving very quickly.
We have two priorities. One is to move expeditiously, as I mentioned, but the other is to get the agreement right. So we have not adopted a specific deadline, but we are moving as quickly as we can, consistent with the principle that we have to deliver an agreement that is going to increase growth and jobs, increase exports, and deliver on the promises that we undertook in the High Level Working Group.
MR. BERCERO: Simply to confirm that I fully agree with what Dan has said.
JOURNALIST: Two questions for Dan on the fuel quality directive and it may not have been discussed this week but I want to ask…when it was discussed in the past, what the US position was and how ? was presented? And for Ignacio, are there any concerns yet on the exclusion of treatment provisions in these IDS talks?
MR. MULLANEY: On the issue on the Fuel Quality Directive, we share the goal of the fuel quality directive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On this sector and horizontally, on a range of regulations and directives, the US is interested in a bit more openness and transparency in public participation, and in the use of scientific evidence that all stakeholders can present. It is really in that context that we are discussing that and other regulatory issues in the EU.
MR. BERCERO: First to clarify that during this week, we have not been discussing investment protection or investment settlement, because we are going to launch a consultation and therefore we will only engage from the discussion on this issue once the consultation is over and for what has been only identified with our member states in accordance with our mandate.
This issue of forensic treatment as you know is one of the choristers of investment protection; it is included in all the investment treaties which have been concluded by our member states. As you know, there are more than one thousand and four hundred such treaties.
In the current treaty, it is found but in a very raw manner, which implies that there are therefore that arbitrators have quite some margins of interpretation to see what this means in practice.
One of the things that we would aim to do in our consultation would be to have a much clearer and solid definition about what are the types of abusive behavior which can […?...] our fair equitable treatment.
Besides, there is the risk that this case could be used to inevitably contest regulatory measures. That would follow the things that we would want to do through our consultation. I do not want to enter in details in the discussion but this is going to appear in the text. But to be very clear, when it comes to fair equitable treatment, what we want to do is to have a much more carefully defined standard of establishment protection, precisely to avoid the risks of challenges against a legitimate regulatory policy.
JOURNALIST: For both Dan and Ignacio…at the last round of the T-TIP negotiations, chicken meat and GMO beef were very hot top conversations; we now know that the US Congress particularly came to see meat products included in T-TIP, I wander if you ever manage to agree on this particular issue? Thank you.
MR. MULLANEY: In the High Level Working Group, we laid out joint goals in respect to various issues, including phytosanitary measures. We both benefit from the common basis of the WTO agreement on phytosanitary measures, which provides for the use of science and risk assessments to support SPS measures.
What we are doing in this negotiation is discussing how we can develop SPS “Plus” or “Beyond” measures that can help clarify those obligations. And it is in this context – and in the context of developing mechanisms for good consultations between the food safety authorities in the US and the food authorities in the Europe – that we are approaching these issues.
We feel it is important for us, given our long trade relationship and, in particular, in the area of food products that we are in the position to elaborate and agree further on some of those disciplines, to help facilitate the trade in safe food products.
MR. BERCERO: The EU certainly recognizes this and has an interest in developing a strong chapter in this agreement, on sanitary matters, it is an issue of great importance also for our reporters in the US and we have an interest in having a good forward looking chapter on that matter. But it is absolutely clear – and it has been since the very beginning of these negotiations – that nothing that we do in these negotiations would imply putting into question the food safety legislation of the EU. The EU has its own food legislation which includes certain provisions and Commissioner De Gucht has made it clear that the law of the EU food safety will not be compromised in the negotiation.
By the way, I suspected that would also be the case of the US, which has food safety legislation with many aspects and I am sure that the attention would be to see what it is that can be done to facilitate within our respective legislative framework.
MR. MULLANEY: …improving the mechanism of this legislation in relation to our international obligation but existing and those that we would develop in the course of this negotiation.
JOURNALIST: Just as a follow up… during the stakeholders’ presentation, it was pretty clear there were irreconcilable differences on a number of issues, beef being one obviously. We have heard from the US and we know from the US congress that beef hormones meat have to be exempted. We have heard that from the European side, ? Sugar and ethanol must be exempted. So my question is – and I have asked this before to Ignacio but there was a lot of confusion about it – what actually WTO law can allow when it comes to trade agreement? What can be exempted? This is important…in my conversations with number of stakeholders they said that inevitably some of these will have to be exempted… so what can be exempted by WTO? Second and it is related to that […sound problem…]related to the exemption issue, the EP proved a resolution the other day that called for data protection to be exempted from the agreement and I would like to know if that is possible, legally speaking and also acceptable, especially from the US side? Thank you.
MR. BERCERO: Here we are really talking about three different issues. Let me talk about each one of them in turn.
So far as the issue for hormones: the Commissioners have been clear and I can only repeat the clear state position that our legislation on hormones with the use in beef is not going to be changed during the negotiation. Indeed it is not going to be changed.
This does not mean that beef is exempted from this negotiation; we recognized that the US has a very strong interest on exports beef to the EU. It is a sensitive product but that does not mean it is going to be exempted from the negotiations.
Actually I am a bit surprised that you have referred to different statements made in the stakeholders’ consultation about different products exempted. I am sure this was not a statement made by EU officials. We are convinced that in this negotiation we need to look into ambitious results on market access where we must be ready to look into options; even in the most sensitive product, we have never been talking about exemption. So this is not something which is coming from the position of the EU officials?
Finally, on the issue of data privacy, again this is not new; this is something I have stated many times which I think is now even repeated by the EP. The T-TIP is not the right place to arise the differences of views and questions that need to be sorted out between the US and the EU. As far as data privacy is concerned, these issues are being discussed. In the context of the T-TIP we are certainly ready to discuss the flow of data, this is after all a co component of modern economy; we have an interest on discussing those issues with the US. All we do is very clear with any personal data which flows from the EU to allow country -including the US – it has to be in accordance with the EU legislation on data privacy person, present or future.
So any engagement on that matter has now to be based on very clear principle.
MR. MULLANEY: On the first question on hormones, in this negotiation we are looking for an SPS discipline that requires that food safety measures be based on science, be based on risk assessment. We are looking for cooperative mechanisms between our two regulators to implement those requirements and to facilitate trade in all products, including all safe food products, between the US and Europe.
On the issue of exemption, I believe the WTO article 24 requires that free trade agreement covers substantially all trade, so that is the legal basis, if I am reading the article correctly, for permitting an agreement like this under WTO rules.
I, too, have not heard about those exemptions, so if there is any information about that I would be interested.
On data privacy, we do have a huge economic relationship with billions of dollars in mutual investment and almost 3 billion dollar a day in trade in goods and services, supporting about 13 million direct jobs. The backbone of that trade relationship is in many ways the flow of data between our two economies. So if we are to negotiate a 21st century agreement that is going to build on those trade flows, build on that success, we think we do need to have provisions in the 21st century context that can facilitate and build on those data trade flows. We are confident though that we can negotiate an agreement that both does that and respects the legitimate privacy regimes on both sides of the Atlantic.
That is going to be our approach in this negotiation.
SPOKESPERSON: Time for two more questions…
JOURNALIST: Question for you both. It has been said several time that general regulation themselves will not be subject to negotiation but maybe some implementation or cooperative mechanisms? Could you tell us a little bit more about that? In other words, is the US access to the European market up for discussion in any sort of way or is this issue completely off the table? Mr. Mullaney could you tell us more about the US expectations on the particular point? Thank you.
MR. BERCERO: I did not fully catch your question but you were referring fully to the SVS issue…we are certainly ready to discuss with the US a chapter on SPS with facilitate […?...] we are certainly ready to be looking into issues relating to the implementation of rules by all the member states; but also we are ready to look into them because in a number of areas, we have concerns about US procedures being complex, […?...] are the sort of issues which I think both sides will be discussing in the context of a SPS chapter.
MR. MULLANEY: I would concur that a lot of discussions, especially in the GMO area, have to do with how the EU legislation actually works. As the Commissioner has pointed out, there are biotech products that have been approved for years in Europe and there may be issues in general terms, as Ignacio pointed out, in the matters of time or process that the current legislation undertakes.
JOURNALIST: A question for both of you. Have you made any determination of whether you are going to be able to have mutual recognition out of our safety standards?
MR. BERCERO: Not yet, this is one of the issues which are being discussed very intensively by both regulators. It is an issue that the industry across Atlantic has made a very powerful case and in particularly in the area of safety – even if the US technical regulations and the European Technical Regulations are different in many respects, the overall of safety guaranteed can be considered to be equivalent.
This issue needs to be verified and examined on the basis of evidence; by the way, you know the […?...] to provide further evidence on that matter and they have actually requested a study on this issue. We have heard a very interesting interpretation in the context of the stakeholders’ debate.
At the end of the day, the regulators on both sides need to make a determination, taking into account the evidence. We think from our point of view that it potentially could be one of the most significant outcome of the T-TIP because in the US is particularly not very high but the costs arising from the need to comply with different technical regulations can be very significant.
If at the end of the negotiations, regulators from both sides come to a conclusion relating to mechanism or of a significant number of many regulations as possible, this would undoubtly the most significant outcome of the T-TIP.
MR. MULLANEY: From the beginning of the negotiation, among the sectors that we have looked out for the purpose of reducing the costs of regulation differences, the auto sector has been one of those and our regulators have been engaged on both sides of the Atlantic and they have been looking at those issues. I cannot say where they exactly are, where they are going, but as Ignacio said, it does depend on a detailed analysis and discussion between the regulators at the table. Those conversations are ongoing perhaps even as we speak. They were still busy when I headed down here, so maybe they are still engaging on these issues!
SPOKESPERSON: Thank you very much to Dan and Ignacio, thank you all for coming and have a good weekend!