European policy makers should aim for a quick conclusion of the negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and drop the more contentious issues such as investor protection.
While the European Commission and European policy makers have long championed a new trade agreement with the United States as a way to boost growth and employment in Europe, the public has grown increasingly sceptical towards the agreement.
Opposition is strongest in Germany but is also building in France and Britain, and elements like the planned investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) have especially been strongly criticised. While the recent turn towards more transparency in the negotiations is a first step towards winning back public support, it will not be enough – the European Commission needs to restart its communication and negotiation strategy for the agreement.
“A fresh start for TTIP” by Sebastian Dullien, Adriana Garcia, and Josef Janning explores the best way to get the most out of TTIP without derailing the negotiation and ratification process and without fostering anti-EU and anti-free trade sentiments.
According to them, Europeans should focus on their core strategic interests – namely, ensuring they are not left out as larger regional trade blocs emerge. TTIP is the EU’s foot in the door, both reinforcing the significance of the European market for the US economy and binding the United States to norms and standards negotiated with the EU, thus balancing the strategic scope of Washington’s “pivot” to Asia.
In particular, the authors recommend that:
- The EU Commission should become more honest about the benefits of the agreement, and its potential winners and losers.
- The negotiators should push for a quick elimination of tariffs, ensuring quicker help for some crisis countries.
- The negotiators should agree on standard harmonisation where it can be easily achieved (e.g. technical standards for cars) and should set up an inclusive process of regulatory convergence to allow TTIP to become a living agreement which harmonises further standards later on (e.g. chemicals and pharmaceuticals).
- The over-ambitious plans for investment protection should be dropped from the proposal.
- The EU Commission should plan to compensate the agreement's potential losers.
The German version “Ein Neuanfang für TTIP” is available here.
The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. ECFR publications only represent the views of its individual authors.