EU-US trade talks: European Commission presents draft negotiating mandates

The European Commission has adopted proposals for negotiating directives for its trade talks with the United States. One on conformity assessment, and one on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods.

Posted on 30.01.2019

More information  can be found in a press release published on the DG TRADE website, Commissioner Malmström’s speech announcing the adoption of the proposed mandates by the Commission, and the proposed mandates on:

In a nutshell, the European Commission is committed to implement what has been announced by President Juncker and President Trump in the Joint Statement of 25 July 2018, with the main objectives being to:

  • Improve cooperation between the European Union and the United States on regulatory issues and on the use of standards in support of regulations.
  • Facilitate acceptance of conformity assessment results and therefore reduce costs linked to conformity assessment
  • Facilitate trade and thus increase trade flows in industrial goods between the European Union and the United States through a reduction of the costs of conformity assessment, in a reciprocal and balanced manner
  • Eliminate tariffs for industrial goods, on a reciprocal basis, with the objective of achieving a substantial elimination of tariffs upon entry into force and a phasing out of such tariffs in a short time frame

In the proposed mandate, the Commission reserves that the negotiations shall be suspended in case the United States does not respect the commitment made on 25 July 2018 i.e. to abstain from adopting new measures against the EU under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act (tariffs on steel and aluminum). The Commission may also suspend negotiations in case the US adopts trade restrictions against EU exports on the basis of Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act or under any other similar United States law (retaliatory measures).

The proposed mandates provide more information regarding impact assessment and consultation of stakeholders. In the context of DG TRADE’s recommendation, a new round of stakeholder consultations will soon be launched on possible regulatory cooperation initiatives with the US, consisting of the publication of a roadmap setting out a stakeholder consultation strategy (with a possibility of stakeholder “feedback” within a four-week period).

From the procedural perspective, Member States will need to give the Commission (EU trade negotiator) their green light on the proposals adopted in these negotiating directives and therefore the Council will need to adopt a decision authorising the Commission to open the negotiations.

MedTech Europe and AdvaMed have adopted a joint industry statement with recommendations, in which industry welcomes the inclusion of medical devices in the announced commitment of the US and the EU to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers between the two trade partners (the joint statement from 25 July 2018). The joint industry statement also includes a list of recommendations for the negotiators to consider, including common agenda on regulatory convergence by adoption of key IMDRF documents and in a mid-term, also to work on aligning conformity assessment procedures, with the goal of eliminating duplication of approvals or regulatory activities where possible. You can access the joint statement here.

MedTech Europe is engaging with stakeholders on this matter we will keep you informed about the next steps. For more information contact [email protected] and [email protected]