Eighth negotiation round, 2 February to 6 February 2015 in Brussels

What was under negotiation?

The 8th round of negotiations was the first round of the European Commission led by the new Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. In this round, the negotiations continued in the areas of market access (tariffs, services, public procurement), regulatory cooperation (reduction of regulatory barriers, enhancing regulatory coherence) and global rules (simplification of trade for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), sustainability, intellectual property protection). The areas of competition policy, rules for state-owned enterprises and investment protection (ISDS) were not negotiated.

What was the outcome?

  • In the area of market access, the tariff offers remain far apart. The 2014 offer by the United States caused a lot of disappointment on the side of Europeans, as it was less ambitious than the EU offer. In regards to services, the negotiators had already agreed on a liberalization approach in past rounds of negotiations, which was also the basis for the discussions in the 8th round of negotiations. According to the EU Commission, the negotiators want to exchange new customs and service offerings in the summer of 2015. In the services sector, the European Commission proposes to negotiate market access on the basis of a positive list, and the issue of national treatment on the basis of a negative list. In the area of public procurement, the negotiations seem to falter so far and are further complicated due to the fact that the US negotiators have not yet put forward any liberalization offers at the state level.
  • Intensive consultations were also held on the subject of regulatory cooperation. On the subject of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), the EU and the United States talked about the areas of standards, transparency and conformity assessments. On the subject of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS), views were extensively exchanged in regards to the US offer. In addition to horizontal issues, negotiations on sectoral regulations were also conducted. Negotiations on regulatory cooperation were continued in the 8th negotiation round in the sectors of pharmaceuticals, automobiles, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, pesticides, information and telecommunications technology, engineering, and medical devices. The EU Commission presented a proposal in early 2015 on the core area of regulatory cooperation and the horizontal regulation chapter. However, substantial discussions on the subject have not yet taken place.
  • Under the column rules, the EU and the United States continued negotiations on a sustainability chapter (labor standards and environmental protection). The EU Commission plans to submit a new proposal for negotiation in advance of the 9th round of negotiations. A consolidated text of the chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is already available, but has not yet been published. Progress was also made in the area of trade facilitation, including on the issues of information centers, data and documents, risk management, audit, and subsequent pre-shipment inspection.

How were interest representatives and stakeholders involved?

A meeting of stakeholders took place in the eighth round of negotiations. Around 400 representatives from civil society, business associations, trade unions and consumer and environmental protection groups took the opportunity to talk to the negotiators. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) has put forward the position of the industry on the subject of rules of origin in this context. Our positioning can be found here.