Forum Europe's 2nd Annual EU-US Trade Conference
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are meeting today during the 8th round of negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP. Over the course of this week alone, over 200 negotiators representing the European Union and the United States are working hard on almost every issue covered by these negotiations.
By the time they finish their work tomorrow, negotiators will have spent almost 1500 hours in total in negotiating rooms on both sides of the Atlantic. And that number excludes a whole host of other political meetings and the hundreds of hours of preparation in between talks.
Because of these efforts, we are making progress – technical progress, incremental progress but real progress towards a final deal that will show what the European Union can do for its citizens.
So what I want to do today is explain how the work that is going on all this week is directly aimed at helping Europeans on the issues they are concerned about: prosperity, effective government and our collective voice in the world.
First, prosperity. Many different areas of the talks this week will be seeking to boost exports. Europe's exports already support around 30 million jobs. They tend to be better paid and more highly skilled than the average. More exports would lead to more of these kinds of jobs.
Let me give you four examples of how the talks this week will help boost exports:
First, negotiators are talking about tariffs. Our aim is to remove almost all of them. That would mean huge new markets for EU products that pay high tariffs today – including Gorgonzola cheese, clothes, shoes and ceramics.
And it would help companies like Elios Ceramica - a successful small Italian firm - export more. Elios currently pays up to 28% tariffs on its exports to the US. Removing them will make it easier to compete.
Second, negotiations this week are also looking at ways to open markets for services.
Europe wants the final deal on services to cover areas like dredging. Dredging removes sand, mud, clay and rocks from harbours, ports and waterways. It's essential to keep the arteries of trade open and European firms happen to be very good at it. We believe they should be allowed to sell their services in the US.
Europe also wants the services negotiations to make it easier for European professionals to offer their skills in the US market. We know there are architects all across Europe who would be ready to compete in the US if their qualifications were recognised. TTIP can help make that happen.
A third area negotiators are discussing this week is public procurement. In Europe's view the agreement should be highly ambitious when it comes to procurement, creating new opportunities for companies that want to sell to the US government or the governments of American states.
That would help sectors like renewable energy, textiles, engineering and many more. And it would help not just big multinationals, but smaller firms too.
For example, there's company based in Finland that employs 2000 people. They make the lights used on airport runways to help planes land safely. Their products are certified by the US authorities but they can't sell them because of they Buy American Act. I want TTIP to solve problems like that.
A fourth area negotiators are working on this week is regulatory cooperation.
The kind of TTIP deal I want to see will make regulation more compatible, without lowering health, safety, environment or consumer protection standards.
That will mean new opportunities for products like medicines, medical devices, cars and car parts, clothing, cosmetics and many more.
Again small companies are just as likely to benefit from this as bigger ones. Take, Xvivo Perfusion – a small firm in Sweden. They build life-saving systems to protect donated hearts, lungs and livers during transplant operations. Getting their equipment approved in the US would have been a lot easier with the similar data requirements that TTIP could bring. That would have allowed them to expand more quickly.
TTIP, then will help Europeans become more prosperous.
But that's not the only benefit. It will also help deliver more effective government.
And negotiators have been working on ways to make that happen too:
First, when regulators cooperate they make better regulation. The EU and US have some of the most qualified regulatory experts in the world. Sharing their expertise about new regulatory challenges – from electric cars to nanotechnology – helps them solve the big societal problems they deal with every day.
This week the EU presented a draft text outlining ways to encourage regulators to cooperate in the future and how that work can be coordinated. We will be releasing the text on-line in the coming days.
Second, when authorities cooperate they can enforce the rules better.
In the pharmaceutical industry we already agree on high standards for quality control in factories. But we don't recognise the inspections by the Food and Drug Administration and vice versa. That means inspectors are constantly flying across the Atlantic in order to check up on factories that have already been checked. If we cooperated on inspections those inspectors could focus on where the real problems are checking many more factories, much more frequently.
These kinds of sectoral regulatory cooperation were also on the agenda this week.
Third, various topics negotiators have been dealing with this week will make it cheaper for governments to buy goods and services, saving taxpayers money. That's what the public procurement talks are all about, for one thing. And our efforts to eliminate tariffs and make regulation more coherent will make products cheaper for governments as well as consumers – think of medicine, medical devices or even uniforms.
Fourth, everything the negotiators do this week aims to help our economy grow faster. That means more money in the public purse to pay for public services like health and education and strong enforcement of regulations.
Finally, there is something that negotiators are not doing this week that will contribute to more effective government.
They are not talking about lowering regulatory standards.
Not on food, not on the environment, not on health not on safety, not on financial stability and not on consumer protection.
None of the work in TTIP on existing EU and US regulation will affect our high standards.
And none of work in TTIP to cooperate on future regulation will affect our high standards.
The negotiations on investment protection are on hold, there have been no talks on that this week.
But whatever the EU proposes on investment protection in the coming months, I can tell you one thing now: it won't affect our high standards either.
This principle underlies all our regulatory work – this week and until this negotiation is finished.
So TTIP won't reduce Europe's freedom to regulate. It will put the the EU and Member States in a better position to deal with today's challenges.
The final way that the negotiations this week will benefit Europeans is by strengthening Europe's voice in the world:
This deal will update our alliance with the United States at a time when both sides are being reminded – every week it seems – of the importance of the values we share.
TTIP can reinforce those values.
This week negotiators are discussing rules on on energy and raw materials. Those rules can help Europe address the challenge presented by our dependence on Russian energy, by removing the legal obstacles to US exports to the EU. This dependence has limited Europe's freedom of manoeuvre in the face of Russia's unacceptable actions in Ukraine.
More broadly, TTIP will help us continue to be strong players in discussions on setting global rules – even as our relative weight in the world is falling as emerging economies develop and grow.
This week we are talking about a whole range of these topics, not just regulation but also issues like how trade can promote sustainable development.
And the fact of the matter is we have a lot more in common with the United States on these kinds of issues than many admit.
Why? Because we share so many principles.
We are both committed to the rule of law, to democracy and to the principle of respect for the individual. All our regulation is based on that principle, which is why we both have some of the strictest regulations in the world.
We need a partner like that today. And we will need it even more in future.
The first "T" in TTIP stands for "Transatlantic" and the "P" stands for "Partnership". A Transatlantic Partnership is what we are trying to build.
Ladies and gentlemen,
These negotiations are one part of a large enterprise. We have a long way to go before we finish this negotiation and it will require many more hours of effort.
But the intensity of this week's work shows that the process is moving forward.
And that what we need to succeed is perseverance.
Perseverance, combined with strong support from everyone who believes that this agreement will be good for Europe.
The fact that there is an intense public debate on TTIP is very positive for the future of Europe. More engagement means a stronger democracy.
But real democratic debate means having all the facts and understanding all the different perspectives.
That's why I wanted to open these negotiations up as much as possible, so people do have the facts at their disposal.
But that is only part of the work. People need to hear from people who have strong views - on all sides of this debate.
So if you do support the aims of this negotiation, if you believe that TTIP is a way for the EU to provide its people with greater prosperity, more effective government and a stronger voice in the world then I urge you to get out and make the case.
At this time of doubt in Europe, it's essential that Europe delivers.
TTIP is a way for it to do so.
Thank you very much for your attention.