Report on new EU-US trade deal expected soon


A high-level working group report on a prospective EU-US trade deal may be concluded in the next few days, according to EU sources, though a final agreement on the proposal is still some way off.

As European leaders gather in Brussels tomorrow for the first summit of the year, European trade commissioner Karel de Gucht travels to Washington and Canada for trade talks.

While Mr de Gucht is planning on finalising the EU-US report, no agreement is expected to be reached in time for this week’s summit.

“We are not at the stage where it could be signed and presented to the council,” said an EU official.

“There is still a long way to go.”

The so-called high-level working group, comprising top European and US trade officials, had been due to issue a statement in November setting out a framework for opening trade discussions.

The delay has meant that the commencement of discussions is unlikely until later in the year.

Priority of presidency

Progressing the EU-US trade talks is a priority of the Irish presidency of the European Council.

The US and EU already have one of the most active trading partnerships in the world. But while tariffs are low, a number of non-tariff barriers exist, such as disparities in regulations and standards.

An EU-Canada trade deal is close to completion, following four years of negotiations, with Mr de Gucht expected to finalise the agreement in Ottawa this week.

The Irish Farmers’ Association has raised concerns about the impact of such a deal on Irish agriculture, particularly for the beef and pork sectors.