EU-US trade talks on an agreement on industrial goods and conformity assessment

In “A Stronger Europe in the World”

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In 2018, trade tensions between the EU and the USA escalated. The US imposed tariffs of 25% and 10% on steel and aluminium imports from the EU on national security grounds, against which the EU retaliated. The US also threatened the EU with tariffs on cars and car parts. In July 2018, Commission President Juncker reached a political agreement with President Trump to avoid further escalation on the tariff front, set out in a Joint EU-US Statement. In January 2019, the European Commission published two draft negotiating directives partially implementing the first point of the Joint Statement. The Commission requested the opening of negotiations on a trade agreement, which would strictly focus on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, and exclude agricultural products; and on an agreement on conformity assessment, that would help address the objective of removing non-tariff barriers Meanwhile in January 2019 the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published negotiating objectives for US-EU trade negotiations. The US objectives are more ambitious than those of the EU are and include the elimination of tariff and non-tariffs barriers on agriculture, which is a particularly sensitive area for the EU. The Council adopted a decision to authorize the opening of negotiations with the USA in April 2019. The negotiations never officially began under the Trump Administration, although technical talks on conformity assessment progressed slightly.

A Council decision paving the way for an EU-US agreement on imports of high-quality (hormone-free) beef into the EU was adopted in July 2019. Under the agreement, the EU granted a significant proportion its tariff rate quota on hormone-free beef imports to the USA, instead of other major beef supplying countries. According to the Commission, the agreement is a negotiated solution in the context of a long-standing WTO dispute.

The European Parliament’s recommendations

The Parliament did not issue recommendations on the opening of EU-US negotiations. On 14 March, the Parliament rejected a draft resolution recommend the opening of EU-US trade talks (on both industrial goods and conformity assessment). The resolution was rejected by 223 votes against 198, with 37 abstentions. In November 2019, the Parliament adopted a resolution on the allocation of a share of the EU quota for hormone-free beef to the US. On 11 November 2020, the Parliament's INTA Committee approved the mini-tariff agreement (lobsters) with the US with no amendments.

On 17 June 2021, INTA adopted an opinion on EU-US trade relations, as part of a resolution on the future of EU-US relations adopted by Parliament on 6 October 2021.


Further reading:

Author: Gisela Grieger, Members' Research Service,

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As of 20/06/2024.