‘Transatlantic’ may route EU to focus on prosperity

‘Transatlantic’ may route EU to focus on prosperity

LONDON - Reuters
‘Transatlantic’ may route EU to focus on prosperity

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso gestures during a conference with EU Trade commissioner on a major transatlantic trade. AFP photo

Forthcoming transatlantic trade talks might offer a fresh incentive for Europe to worry a bit less about protecting past economic gains and focus a bit more on securing sources of future prosperity.

The negotiations, announced last week and due to start in June, are also an important chance for the European Union to rejuvenate political ties with the United States. Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said “The transatlantic economic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for half of global economic output and nearly one trillion dollars in goods and services trade.”

Successive attempts to prise open markets over the past 15 years made some progress but ultimately failed. This time round, extensive consultations have convinced officials that an agreement can be forged at a lower political cost.

One reason is that agriculture, a constant thorn in the side of negotiators, is less of a bilateral bugbear than it was even two years ago thanks to changes in the global market for farm produce, said Fredrik Erixon, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy.

“It will become much clearer that you’re not going to get an agreement that can deliver short and medium-term economic gains or longer-term dynamic gains unless you’re willing to do supply-side reforms,” he said.