‘The Commission is making steady progress in the ongoing TTIP negotiations’

The European Commission is making steady progress in the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, Margaritis Schinas, the Commission’s spokesperson has said.

Schinas was speaking in Brussels earlier today where he responded to comments made by the German Vice-Chancellor’s that TTIP had ‘de facto failed’.

The spokesperson said that “although trade talks take time, the ball is rolling right now”.

“The most recent round [of negotiations] was held here in mid-July in Brussels. Talks are now entering a crucial stage as we have proposals for almost all chapters on the table.

“Commissioner Malmstrom and US representative Froman are continuing the talks and Ministers will have a chance to take stock of these talks at the upcoming informal trade council in Bratislava on September 22.”

Provided the conditions are right, the Commission stands right to close this deal by the end of the year.

“But as President Juncker has said, and I quote, ‘the Commission will not sacrifice Europe’s safety, health, social and data protection standards or our cultural diversity on the altar of free trade’.

“At the last European Council, President Juncker asked leaders one after the other if yes or no, the EU should continue to negotiate and the Commission received once again the mandate to conclude these negotiations.”

The Commission is negotiating this trade agreement on the basis of a unanimous mandate that EU Member States gave it back in 2013, he said.

Following the last round of talks, Chief Negotiator for the EU, Ignacio García Bercero said that after this round negotiators had a good sense about the outline of the future trade and investment agreement between the EU and the US.

TTIP comprises of three main blocks; market access for EU and US companies, cooperation on regulatory issues and global rules of trade such as sustainable development or competition policy.

“On market access, the EU aims at a comparable level of ambition on tariffs, services and public procurement. We are not there yet.”

He said that offers have been exchanged twice, which led to a very advanced stage of negotiations. However, he also said that they have yet to find balance within the agricultural silo between the progress on tariffs and the progress on other issues important to the EU such as geographical indications and wines.