TTIP: how the negotiations work

On 14 June 2013, the Council of the European Union, which is made up of government ministers of the Member States, issued a mandate to the European Commission to conduct negotiations with the United States on a transatlantic trade and investment agreement.

When it comes to trade policy, the European Commission is responsible for negotiating on behalf of the EU and its 28 Member States. Within the Commission, the Directorate-General for Trade (DG Trade), under the authority of the Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, leads the negotiations. This Directorate-General works closely with all other departments of the Commission, which participate in the negotiations as required.

The Commission negotiates with the United States Trade Representative (USTR), meeting at regular intervals for rounds of negotiations that take place alternately in the United States and in Europe. It reports to the Member States in detail after each round of negotiations at Trade Policy Committee meetings in Brussels.
Likewise, European negotiating positions are discussed with the Member States before each round. In other words, the Commission is ultimately responsible for presenting the European positions, basing them on the Member States’ positions, which serve as essential building blocks. In this way, the Member States assist the Commission in its task, as stipulated in Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

So far, there have been eleven rounds of negotiations and the European Commission has published reports since the seventh round.

At this stage of the discussions, the draft agreement contains three parts:

  • Market access: Market access covers tariffs (lowering customs duties), access to public procurement, provision of services and freedom and protection of investments.
  • Regulatory cooperation: Regulatory cooperation includes a horizontal aspect (dealing with technical barriers to trade), a sector-specific aspect (annexes focusing on ten industries, including vehicles, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and chemicals), and lastly, an institutional aspect (setting up bodies to oversee the implementation of the agreement and promote dialogue on regulations and the convergence of future standards).
  • Rules: Rules cover commitments in terms of competition, intellectual property, geographical indications, etc.

Last updated: 17/11/2015