EU-U.S.: Call for proposals for regulatory cooperation activities
Further to the joint U.S.-EU Statement following President Juncker’s visit to the White House in July, there have been five meetings of the EU-US Executive Working Group to discuss implementation of its work programme.
Good progress has been made and in January the Commission published and internal report.
Where we politically stand now: On 14 March, the European Parliament’s INTA Committee voted against (223 against, 198 in favour, 37 abstained) the launch of the EU-US talks, but it put forward a number of conditions: for the US to lift tariffs on aluminum and steel; to have a consultation process with Civil Society, to conduct a sustainability impact assessment; to support the inclusion of automotive, the exclusion of agriculture; talks should be suspended in the event that the US does levy tariffs, and to have some clarity on Rules of Origin.
NB: The EP vote is not legally binding, meaning that the Member States can still move ahead with approving the mandate for the Commission to start negotiating on eliminating industrial tariffs and harmonising on conformity assessment. The Commission has said “we are getting close to obtaining a mandate from the Council.. the Signals are that the Council wants to move rapidly to adopt the Commission’s mandate.”
Although the Commission could not be drawn on a precise date, it did say it may come as soon as week beginning 1 April.
Overall, the Commission has stated that there is still a good deal of commitment, ambition and political will to achieve as much as possible, in the run up to this November, when the new Commission comes in.
Indeed, the US’s request for the EU to open its doors to soya beans has been met with an increase of 112% since July to Dec 2018, furthermore there has also been a steep rise in shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US.
Against this backdrop however, there are widely differing views on the scope of the Commission’s draft negotiating mandates and the USTR’s Specific Negotiating Objectives. Central to this is a clash been the inclusion of automotive (on the EU side) against the inclusion of agriculture (on the US side).
As regards the US Section 232 investigation into the potential national security threat of the imports of vehicles and automotive parts from the EU, the Department of Commerce sent its report to the White House on 17 February where it remains undisclosed. President Trump has 90 days in which to act.
We can only surmise that it may lay forth a series of different options which the Administration could consider to make a case for national security justifications, for some sort of actions, with significant impacts. Possible tariff duties of between 10-25% import duties. It is understood that no one in Washington support the 232 on auto tariffs. The fact that Trump has not acted on it, underscores the notion that this is really a negotiating tool, which he is using in the frame of the EU-US talks.
There is a lot of interest coming from USTR to engage on conformity assessment, especially in relation to standards and to future technologies, to get regulatory convergence.
We invite members to respond to the Commission’s call for a public consultation on regulatory cooperation. Three main areas: conformity assessment; standards and regulatory cooperation.
The closing date for comments is 23 April 2019.
In: CLEPA News, Growth & Competitiveness, Trade