Twelfth negotiation Round, 22 to 26 February 2016 in Brussels

During the first round of negotiations in 2016, both parties reaffirmed their commitment to negotiating a political framework agreement before the end of President Obama’s term of office. In addition, the parties agreed to pursue two additional rounds of negotiations before the summer break. Consolidated texts that compile proposals from both the EU and United States in all areas under negotiation should be made available in the fall.

The main focus of the 12th round were issues pertaining to regulatory cooperation, services, and sustainability. In addition, the new proposal of the EU Commission in the area of investment protection was officially negotiated for the first time.

Stakeholders from business, civil society, and academia once again had the opportunity to make comments and discuss with the negotiating teams. BDI reaffirmed at the stakeholder dialogue that, from the industry´s point of view, TTIP should be an ambitious agreement. Crucial areas under negotiation should not be neglected because of the ambitious timeline. Please find BDI´s statement here.

Details from the 12th round

  • Regulatory cooperation: The negotiations were continued in particular in the sector-specific working groups. These include the following sectors: automobile, chemistry, cosmetics, mechanical and electrical engineering, ICT, medical technology, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and textiles. Competent regulatory agencies participated in the negotiations in all sectors. How the design of a mechanism for future regulatory cooperation will look remains open. The EU Commission named three principles for regulatory cooperation: (1) Regulatory agencies should be integrated in the whole process, (2) cooperation should be designed in conformity with the legislative processes of the EU and its member states, (3) current standards of protection are non-negotiable.
  • Services: The discussions dealt with the question of vocational training certificates and under which conditions those can be mutually recognized in the future. This procedure should be specific to the occupation and should be reviewed by professional associations.
  • Sustainability: The U.S. negotiators presented negotiation proposals for environmental protection and labor standards. The EU Commission confirmed that an agreement on the design of the chapter on sustainability should first be reached. After that, the two sides will hold discussions about the enforceability of the provisions in the sustainability chapter.  
  • Public procurement: At the end of the negotiation talks, the United States presented a proposal for opening the U.S. procurement market. From the EU’s point of view, this proposal does not go far enough, because it does not cover the ʹsub-centralʹ level, which refers to federal states and communities.
  • Investment protection: The EU and the United States discussed for the first time the establishment of a permanent investment court system for the settlement of investment disputes. While the EU and U.S. proposals had large overlaps in the area of substantive investment protection provisions, the investment court system and the appeal mechanism proposed by the EU were seen critically by the United States.

Please find the statement of EU chief negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero on the 12th round here.