The Council authorises the Commission to start negotiations with the United States

On 15 April 2019, the Council of the European Union approved the mandates for the Commission to open negotiations with the United States on two agreements:

  • a trade agreement limited to the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods only, excluding agricultural products;
  • an agreement on conformity assessment aimed at facilitating companies to prove their products meet technical requirements on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Commission should examine the potential economic, environmental and social impacts of the agreements, taking into account the commitments of the EU in international agreements, including the Paris Agreement on climate change, and produce a sustainability impact assessment. The findings of this impact assessment should be taken into account in the negotiating process.

Moreover, with regard to the agreement on the elimination of industrial tariffs, the negotiations should take full account of particular sensitivities for certain goods, such as energy-intensive products and fisheries products, as well as the environmental impact arising from the differences in the EU and US regulatory frameworks. 

The mandates ensures that the EU will not conclude negotiations with the US as long as the current tariffs on EU exports of steel and aluminium remain in place, and that it would be able to suspend negotiations unilaterally if the US were to impose further trade restrictions against European products.

The final agreements will be concluded by the Council, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

Sara Capruzzi