The timing of TTIP

I wrote a piece on the current politics of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the EU-US trade deal, with a colleague of mine from Hill+Knowlton’s Belgium office. It is mostly just a review.

During the last negotiation round in October 2015, negotiators lauded the ‘substantial progress’ that was made, especially on tariffs, and at the end of 2015, European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, and her US counterpart, Michael Froman, met in Brussels to emphasise their commitment to reaching an ambitious TTIP, and to intensify efforts this year. Most recently, Commissioner Malmström said that negotiators must be ‘approaching the endgame’ by the summer, with further negotiation rounds confirmed in April and July. The real question is if the parties will be able to close a deal by the end of this year.
On the American side, the 2016 elections and the process of trade deals probably pushes a possible vote into 2017. On the European side, 2016 and 2017 faces deep uncertainty due to the UK referendum on its membership of the EU and French and German elections (both taking place in 2017). The next European Parliament elections take place in 2019, as does the appointment of a new European Commission.

Soren on TTIP

I wrote,with a colleague from Prism, a piece on the role of European business in making sure that TTIP passes in the US and that the Transatlantic relations gets redefined.

There are no better spokespeople for the position that TTIP can create mutually beneficial growth and jobs than the European businesses that would invest in the U.S., and German businesses are the natural leaders of that group.

And:

In the end, TTIP is about building our shared values and shared interests into a deeper and more beneficial partnership—one that will create much needed growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Achieving that partnership will require European business to become more comfortable with engaging in the political process on both sides of the Atlantic

A signal that the European Parliament can govern from the right

And now for a little bit of European news on a day that may he packed with it due to President Obama abandoning our allies in Eastern Europe for the Russians. Yesterday, the European Parliament re-elected Manuel Barroso as President of the European Commission. Not a big deal right? Not exactly. You see, this is the first time that the leadership of the European Union has been elected without a “Grand Coalition” of the right and left. Instead, the center-right European Peoples’ Party joined forces with the right-leaning (aka econmic) Liberals and Euro-skeptics.

Here’s what Bloomberg reported:

Barroso’s victory in the EU Parliament stemmed from support by the Christian Democrats, the biggest faction, and the pro- business Liberals, the third-largest group. The vote was 382 to 219, with 117 abstentions.

Socialist and Green members, still unhappy that Barroso supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 when he was Portuguese government leader, refused to back his reappointment while failing to present a rival candidate. The Socialists, the second-biggest faction, said Barroso could pick up their support when putting together his next team of commissioners, who will need Parliament approval as a whole.

The leadership of the European Parliament has an option for the first time in history. They can decide to govern from the center-right. This vote was the first example of this coalition actually working. This follows after a crushing defeat of the left in the European elections and the right governing in the leading European countries: Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, and others, and David Cameron all but certain to be the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. This gives the right the control of the European Council, in addition to the Commission and Parliament.

Let’s see if the leadership of the European Parliament learns this lesson.