EU Commission’s Cecilia Malmström on TTIP progress: “Optimism is duty”

Commissioner Cecilia Malmström   Photo Ludo Segers

These realities include increased on-line trade and the protection of data and, in particular, she reminded the audience that it was not just the EU, but also Americans that have concerns about NSA activity.

Commissioner Malmström pointed out that in the global value chains 15% of all EU exports are made up of imported goods and services and therefore international trade supports jobs in the EU, which in turn leads to increased prosperity and supports core values of Europe’s identity. She noted that “standing still is not an option as it would put European exporters at a huge disadvantage, as others improve their access to markets vital for our exporters”. She said that “both the drive of workers and entrepreneurs lead to economic benefits, but equally to open trade policy at home and abroad”.

Repeating the famous words from Immanuel Kant, in response to the slow pace of the TTIP negotiation moving forward, Commissioner Malmström said: “Optimism is duty.” She said: “Making a deal with our largest trade and investment partner (the USA) will make a major contribution to expanding the amount of our trade covered by ambitious trade rules.” Moreover, “TTIP is also about protecting and strengthening our shared transatlantic values – from open markets to high levels of regulatory protection for the environment, health and consumer protection. By coming together around principles like these, the US and Europe strengthen our partnership to defend them. That’s why TTIP will be a vital part of the future structure of the world trade system.”

In a question and answer session with the audience, Cecilia Malmström said that the TTIP negotiations were much more than eliminating tariffs on goods between the EU and the USA. She also assured that such controversial products like beef treated with hormones and GMOs (genetically modified organism) would not be allowed to enter the EU. In response to a question from the US Cancer Institute, she said that individual EU States would retain the right to legislate restricted access to cigarettes. This came in response to the tobacco industry taking legal action against several EU countries over strict labelling laws. She also defended the recent actions of the European Commission to investigate Google and Gazprom in potentially abusing their market position.

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