Students that follow the GNMI course New Trends in Global Trade Governance, part of the ESCI-UPF Jean Monnet Module on Knowledge and Innovation for the European Trade Challenges, had the opportunity to attend Mark Jeffery’s talk entitled “The US-EU trade relations. Time for a change?”.
Mark Jeffery is a Law lecturer at Blanquerna – Universitat Ramon Llull and has been the Head of Communication at the European Commission Representation in Barcelona for 15 years. The talk revolved around the political and economic relations between the European Union and the United States.
One of the principal issues discussed during the conference was the TTIP, the trade negotiation between the EU and the US ended without any agreement, as was halted by Donald Trump. As Jeffery said, trade agreement negotiations take time and can go across different administrations. For this reason, he regrets that the European Union did not take advantage of the situation when the political window of opportunity was open, that is, with the Obama administration.
Jeffery remarked that the TTIP was a significant agreement because it intended to promote economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. Furthermore, the TTIP was an opportunity to reinvigorate multilateralism. The treaty wanted to strengthen an alliance that constitutes the most important trade relationship worldwide: the EU-US exchange generates 3 billion euros every day. And finally, it was understood to maintain the global order established at the Bretton Woods Conference, at the end of World War II.
The lecturer also mentioned the difficulties that the European Union faced to soothe the critics and the massive protests held in different European countries. He said that the protest campaign against the TTIP was very effective. Although, he pointed out that most of its arguments were attempting to mislead, helped to misinform the European citizens and did not try to build an alternative to the agreement.
Jeffery explained some of the lessons learned by the EU in the failed TTIP negotiations. Since then, the EU has defined clearly its trade policy and has improved its transparency. Nowadays, every negotiation discussion is public and can be found on the European Commission website: this kind of openness does not exist anywhere else in the world.
At the end of the session, Jeffery imagined how the future relationship between the European Union and the United States would be with the Biden administration. For the moment, Biden has a complicated domestic agenda, so the changes in trade policy will not be considered as a priority step and will take time. From the European perspective, the political shift at the White House is seen as an improvement in the tone and the predictability of trade negotiations scenarios. Both of these aspects were taken for granted for a long time, even though Trump’s administration proved differently.