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Brussels, 8th November 2007

VP Verheugen chairs first meeting of Transatlantic Economic Council on 9th November

The Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) will meet in Washington D.C tomorrow. The TEC aims to strengthen joint EU/American action on reducing regulatory barriers to trade, protecting intellectual property rights, ensuring secure trade, integrating financial markets, promoting innovation and technology and encouraging investment. The TEC was created by EU and US leaders to foster transatlantic economic integration at the EU/US Summit in Washington in April 2007. Tomorrow´s meeting in Washington will be jointly chaired by European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen and Allan Hubbard, National Economic Council Director based in the White House. Vice-President Verheugen will lead a high-level delegation including Portuguese minister for Economy and Trade Manuel Pinho, Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva and Taxation and Customs Union Commissioner Laszlo Kovács.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “The first meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council is a milestone that will further strengthen the economic partnership between two economic giants, the EU and the US. Enhancing our economic cooperation is of the utmost importance for both of us and should especially be aimed at reducing unnecessary administrative and regulatory burdens for businesses and in the long term consumers.''

The first TEC meeting will discuss how to make transatlantic trade and investment less burdensome. Certain sectors have been selected for priority treatment: ICT and electrical equipment, cosmetics, medical devices and pharmaceutical products. Secure cargo trade, intellectual property rights, product safety, accounting standards, and investment are subjects expected to be raised at the first TEC meeting. Reducing the burden of divergent regulation on businesses and consumer will be a major focus of the discussions.

Vice President Verheugen thinks that, after only four months of work, among the key results of this first TEC meeting will be simplified approval procedures for orphan drugs – drugs intended for treatment of thousands of rare diseases - and convergence towards globally compatible specifications for bio-ethanol and bio-diesel. An agreement will also be reached on the launch of an investment dialogue. Mutual recognition of accounting standards will also be high on the agenda. Progress on these issues would improve the competitiveness of a wide range of businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Background TEC

The TEC was created by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President George W. Bush to foster transatlantic economic integration at the EU/US Summit in Washington in April 2007. The TEC has several permanent members: on the European side, the Commissioners for External Relations, for Trade, and for the Internal Market and Financial Services, and on the US side, the Secretaries of the Treasury and Commerce and the US Trade Representative.

The Transatlantic Economic Council aims to make transatlantic cooperation more transparent and provides a channel for stakeholders to make their views known. This is why the TEC will meet with its Group of Advisers, who are tasked with articulating the views of citizens, consumers and producers on both sides of the Atlantic on the priorities that should be pursued.

For more information see IP/07/587

Background EU-US economic relations

The EU/US economic partnership is the deepest and largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world. Trade flows across the Atlantic are running at around €1.7 billion a day. The EU is home to almost 70% of total outward US investment. In 2005, American companies invested four times as much in Belgium as they did in China the following year.

Some facts:

  • Annual bilateral trade: € 620 billion
  • Combined trade: 40% of world trade
  • Combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP): 60% of world GDP
  • Bilateral investment flows provide 14 million jobs

More information on EU-US trade

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