Last week the Trade committee of the European Parliament voted in favour of opening trade negotiations with the United States.
Starting talks would ease current tensions in EU-US trade relations. However, the Members of the European Parliament note that the conclusion of a trade agreement based on the current negotiating mandate can only be successful if the following conditions are met:
- the US must lift tariffs on aluminium and steel;
- a comprehensive consultation process with civil society and a sustainability impact assessment are carried out;
- the EU insists on including cars and car tariffs in the talks, and on excluding agriculture;
- talks will be suspended if the US levies another tariff;
- more clarity on how rules of origin (which lock in how much of the value of a product must be created locally for trade preferences) are handled during the talks.
Parliament will vote on its stance on the mandates in March. EU Council of Ministers is expected to adopt the draft negotiating mandates in the same month. The Commission will start negotiations on the basis of the final mandate.
The European Commission submitted its draft negotiating mandates to the Council for approval on 18 January. The mandates will authorise the Commission to negotiate with the US on eliminating tariffs on industrial goods and on harmonising conformity assessment.