EU fearful US lukewarm on trade deal

Hogan calls on US to make its priorities known as presidential elections loom

EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan: “We’ve had a very slow response to position papers that have been put to the American side.”

EU agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan: “We’ve had a very slow response to position papers that have been put to the American side.”

 

EU trade ministers gather in Brussels today for discussions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) amid increasing concern in Brussels about the commitment of the US to completing a deal before the 2016 US general election.

Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton is among those attending today’s meeting which will be the first chaired by the new EU commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmstrom. Separately, Irish commissioner Phil Hogan is one of four EU commissioners who will hold bilateral meetings with US negotiator Michael Froman on the EU-US trade deal today in Brussels, ahead of Malmstrom’s visit to Washington on December 9th.

Earlier this week Phil Hogan, the EU’s new agriculture commissioner, called on the US to spell out its priorities regarding the trade deal. “There is no demonstration of a serious intent at the moment to have a TTIP deal on the American side,” Hogan said. “We’ve had a very slow response to position papers that have been put to the American side.”

Asian-Pacific rival

Speaking earlier this week, European Commission secretary-general Catherine Day said she thought it unlikely a deal would be done in 2015, though she stressed a trade deal would stimulate the European economy. Hogan also expressed concerns about the timetable.

“I don’t know [if] the Americans are interested in doing a deal at the moment – they are more interested in the Asia-Pacific region,” he told journalists earlier this week. “We are engaging at the moment with the US to establish if they’re serious about doing a deal in 2015.”

Flagging appetite

“President Obama said over the weekend that if Europe wanted this deal, it was up to Europe to put forward proposals. We have put forward our proposals in a very open and transparent way . . . Unfortunately the United States can’t even tell their own Congress about the contents of their own negotiating mandate which is creating conspiracy, suspicion and mis-information.”

EU sources said Mr Hogan’s robust comments this week reflected the commission’s position as it prepared for the next round of official negotiations.

According to a document to be considered today, the council will “reiterate the EU’s determination to promote free, fair and open trade in a spirit of reciprocity and mutual benefit.”