The US and EU could sign a new trade deal after the European Council, the body comprising of European member states, voted to resume talks over the Trans-Atlantic Investment Partnership (TTIP).
The vote, which took place on April 15, 2019, was passed despite French objecting to the US position on climate change, in particular Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.
“I am not in favour of having new trade deals, in whatever form, with whoever is, with partners that do not have the same climate standards that we have,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.
France was joined by Belgium in not voting to resume talks, although Brussels abstained rather than not support the talks outright due to opposition from its French-speaking Wallonia region.
Macron was unable to stop the resumption of trade talks as the European Council only needed a qualified majority.
However, should his objections not be met then Macron could still scupper whatever deal is negotiated as each member state will have a veto.
In a statement the European Commission welcomed the vote. EU Trade Commission Cecila Malmstron said: “This is a welcome decision that will help ease trade tensions. We are now ready to start formal talks for these two targeted agreements that will bring tangible benefits for people and economies on both sides of the Atlantic.
“I am convinced that breaking down barriers to trade between us can be win-win."
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The European Union is delivering on what President Trump and I have agreed on 25 July 2018.
“We want a win-win situation on trade, beneficial for both the EU and the U.S. Notably we want to slash tariffs on industrial products as this could lead to an additional increase in EU and U.S. exports worth around €26 billion.
“The European Union and the United States have one of the most important economic relationships in the world. We want to further strengthen trade between us based on the positive spirit of last July.”
Original TTIP negotiations collapsed into a long-running dispute over tariffs following Trump’s election 2016.
Despite the European Council’s vote to reopen the trade talks, the EU has this week threatened fresh duties worth approximately US$20 billion.
The tariffs are direct retaliation to the US drawing up $11 billion worth of duties, which Washington said is related to supposed economic damage done by EU subsidies to aeroplane and defence company Airbus.