Moving forward with the transatlantic economic council.

AuthorPrice, Daniel M.
PositionTransatlantic Relations - Transatlantic Economic Council - Organization overview

In introductory remarks at a May 2008 discussion on Trade and Investment sponsored by The European Institute, German Ambassador to the United States Klaus Scharioth outlined the background to the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC). The TEC was established on April 30, 2007 at the EU/U.S. Summit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President George Bush and EU Commission President Jose Barroso as part of the EU/U.S. framework agreement for advancing transatlantic economic integration. "Both sides of the Atlantic point out that although the economic topic du jour may be the emerging Asian markets, the most important economic relationship in the world--with two billion dollars of daily trade and two trillion dollars of investment stock--remains that between North America and Europe," he said. The TEC acts as a high-level discussion forum and instrument to remove trade barriers and promote economic integration between Europe and America. In particular, it works on key areas of mutual interest: investments, secure trade and commerce, financial markets, accounting standards, protection of intellectual rights and innovation and technology. The German ambassador praised the TEC, saying, "It's a remarkable body. We all know that governments are usually quite good in creating barriers and creating obstacles and creating new red tape. But this body has exactly the opposite function; it has the function of trying to eliminate those burdens." The TEC has met twice thus far: in Washington in November 2007 and in Brussels in May 2008. Leaders in the U.S. and EU have pledged to keep the TEC as a top priority in the coming years, according to Ambassador Scharioth.

The Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) achieves its highest purposes when it takes on the mission of advancing the goal of transatlantic economic integration. I see the TEC as a forum where European commissioners and U.S. cabinet officers and other senior officials address three sets of concerns. One, they address so-called horizontal issues: those areas where our regulatory policies could be better aligned, particularly in the areas of risk assessment, cost- benefit analysis, transparency and public participation. Second, the TEC takes on discrete bilateral issues that are not simply important issues in and of themselves, but are also symbolic for the transatlantic relationship. Accounting standards, poultry restrictions and suppliers' declaration of conformity are all examples of...

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