THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
1999 U.S.-EU Summit: Strengthening the Transatlantic Economic Partnership
The United States and European Union (EU) today took additional steps to strengthen our Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) by harmonizing standards, reducing regulatory barriers, and increasing cooperation in sectors such as food safety, services, and biotechnology. These actions will benefit Americans and Europeans by reducing the costs and time required for regulatory approval, and enhancing trade while ensuring that we maintain high standards of product and food safety.
The United States and the EU have the world's largest trade and investment relationship, supporting millions of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, creating growth for Americans, Europeans and the world, and generating investment and scientific research in virtually all industrial and agricultural sectors. At the U.S.-EU Summit in London on May 18, 1998, President Clinton and EU leaders agreed to establish the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TEP) to further strengthen this relationship. The new initiatives agreed to today build upon the progress the TEP has yielded since its creation one year ago.
Reaping the Benefits of Biotechnology
Both the United States and the EU are committed to providing our citizens the highest levels of protection, while reducing potential trade barriers in this area. The United States and the EU are exchanging information on their respective legislative and regulatory initiatives in food safety which could relate to transatlantic trade. Both sides are also exchanging information on their systems for a rapid alert system to inform third countries of food safety problems. Also, the two sides are pursuing a formal arrangement to cooperate in the exchange of information and education in the risk assessment area.
Increasing Regulatory Cooperation
The United States and EU today committed to reducing technical barriers to trade such as duplicative regulation, unnecessary paperwork, and incompatible standards, which may hinder trans-Atlantic trade by $3-5 billion, and impose especially severe burdens on small and medium-sized companies.
To address these problems, the U.S. and EU conducted a thorough review both of the transparency of our respective regulatory procedures and of the ways our regulatory agencies have been cooperating, both bilaterally and multilaterally. Each side prepared papers, which were subjected to detailed questions and comments. On the basis of the final papers, which are available to the public, we will begin developing principles and guidelines to improve participation and openness of our regulatory procedures. By enhancing the ability of both sides to consult and provide views on standards and regulations, we hope to identify potential problems early and prevent them from emerging as serious disputes.
U.S. and EU officials have also been working on a first package of sectors in which technical barriers to trade can be eliminated. We agreed to intensify work in the following sectors:
The service sector represents 75 percent of the U.S. GDP and is the fastest growing sector of our economy. In the area of services, we aim to make it significantly easier for U.S. professionals and firms to operate in the European marketplace, we made progress towards a bilateral U.S.-EU framework agreement for negotiating mutual recognition in services. Under the proposed framework, the U.S. and the EU will agree to recognize the licenses or certifications granted in each other's regulatory systems in selected services sectors. Once complete, we will use this framework to achieve concrete results in important sectors such as engineering insurance in which U.S. firms and professionals set the international standard for competitiveness. It will create mutually beneficial new business opportunities in a bilateral relationship that already exceeds $130 billion in bilateral services trade, while addressing our shared environmental, health, safety and consumer protection concerns.
TEP Biotech - Pilot Project
The U.S. and EU adopted a TEP pilot project, which will enable a comparison of certain U.S. and EU environmental review processes for transgenic plants prior to commercialization. Under one component of the project, U.S. and EU regulators will compare certain aspects of their scientific review of biotech product applications by examining documents of products that have already been reviewed. Under the second aspect, U.S. and EU regulators will monitor each other's processing of an application filed simultaneously in the United States and the EU by a willing industry participant. The proposed pilot project would focus on the technical and scientific issues which are part of the regulatory approval process. More timely and transparent regulation in the EU will remove a growing trade irritant and contribute to potentially increased sales of innovative American biotechnology products in the EU.
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