EU wants to negotiate with Washington “as soon as possible”

Friday, 11 January 2019 13:59
Cecilia Malmström says that the European Commission is close to having a negotiation mandate for the US-EU trade agreement. Cecilia Malmström says that the European Commission is close to having a negotiation mandate for the US-EU trade agreement. © Belga
The European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, indicated on Thursday that her mandate to negotiate an agreement with the United States was “almost finalised”, which would open the way for formal discussions.
Ms Malmström and the American Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, have been engaged in a working group since summer 2018, to define a framework for potential trade negotiations, following an agreement in principle around a commercial agreement ratified at the end of July by the American President Donald Trump, and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

“We are working upon final details of this negotiation mandate, which has, naturally, to be submitted to member states,” she told the Agence France Presse press agency. Speaking from a trip to Washington, Ms Malmström added, “I therefore think that the process may be swift, even if it is still not possible to say how long the European Council will need to make its decision.”

The European Commission which, notably, met with Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday and Thursday, moreover believed that he does not see a necessity to be particularly opposed to the negotiation mandate, to the extent that it will not include agriculture, an especially sensitive subject in France.

“I see no objection as everyone understands that we need a positive agenda with the United States,” declared Ms Malmström. “The opportunity for negotiating an agreement on (reducing) customs duties on industrial goods is restricted, but the aspect remains important for both parties. On the European side, we are attempting to be ready to proceed as soon as possible,” she added.

Cecilia Malmström said that the European Union was still prepared to include “cars and all types of vehicles” within the negotiations “if such inclusion is reciprocal.”

Christopher Vincent
The Brussels Times
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