José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
Joint press conference
Brussels ,13 February 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to announce today that the European Union and the United States have decided to initiate internal procedures to launch negotiations with the aim of reaching a ground-breaking free trade agreement: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
I am glad that following the political decision taken together with President Obama in our 2011 Summit in Washington this is now possible.
I welcome the commitment of President Obama to this shared goal and I look forward to working closely with him to achieve this.
There have been in the past several attempts to launch this process of negotiations, but every time there were obstacles and resistance. The European Commission has been strongly advocating this very important step forward, and I would like to thank the business community on both sides of the Atlantic for their support. I am sure that this has played a role in today's positive developments, and we certainly will need their support for the next steps.
A future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a game-changer.
Together, we will form the largest free trade zone in the world.
So this negotiation will set the standard – not only for our future bilateral trade and investment, including regulatory issues, but also for the development of global trade rules.
A future deal will give a strong boost to our economies on both sides of the Atlantic. It will be a comprehensive agreement going beyond tariffs, by integrating markets and removing barriers. It is estimated that, when this agreement is up and running, the European economy will get a stimulus of half a per cent of our GDP – which translates into tens of billions of euros every year and tens of thousands of new jobs.
This offers us a great perspective at a time when we are gradually making our way to recovery.
And most important of all: it is a boost to our economies that doesn't cost a cent of tax payers' money.
For these negotiations to succeed, we need – above all - political will: a desire to make our rules and regulations compatible, and to cut tariffs whenever it makes sense and is possible.
So today's announcement to launch negotiations sends a positive signal to people on both sides of the Atlantic. It provides an assurance that 'we mean business' – whether that is for individual consumers or households, business or traders.
Today's announcement shows that Europe and the United States are strategic partners who are willing to go the extra mile to strengthen their economies together.
Now, these negotiations will not be easy. But we also recognise that we should move fast.
In this respect, I'm confident that the joint High-Level Working Group Report which has just been published provides us with a good framework for the future negotiations.
Right now, the task at hand is to get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
The Commission will move quickly to present a negotiating mandate to our Member States so we can start negotiations as soon as possible, still during the Irish Presidency of the Council. I was glad to see the commitment of all the 27 Member States, as expressed in the recent conclusions of the European Council.
The sooner we start, the sooner we can reach a successful conclusion and put in place the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated.
Now I pass the floor to Karel de Gucht, who, on behalf of the Commission and the European Union, has been co-chairing the High Level Working Group with the US trade representative.