The European Union and the U.S officially launched far-reaching negotiations on a trans-Atlantic free trade and investment agreement today that could boost their combined economies by as much as $280 billion a year.
The announcement was made at a G-8 summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, which is being attended by President Obama and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K., the four largest EU economies.
Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive, said the launch of the talks was “a true game changer for the global economy.”
The Commission received a negotiating mandate from the 27 EU member states on Friday after trade ministers struck a compromise over France’s demand to exclude movies, TV programs and audiovisual services from the talks.
After more than 12 hours of haggling in Luxembourg, ministers excluded the cultural sector from the Commission’s mandate but said it could open negotiations on these industries at a later date with the support of all EU member states, including France.
“This is not a carve out,” said EU trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner. “Audio-visual services are presently not in the mandate, but the mandate clearly indicates that the commission has the possibility to come back (to EU governments) with additional negotiating directives.”
The negotiations will focus on dismantling non-tariff barriers, including different regulatory and customs regulations that hinder transatlantic trade, synchronizing European and U.S. regulations in sectors ranging from car components to drug packaging, and opening up public tenders.