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Feb. 11 — The European Commission is not willing to compromise on European food security or consumer protection and environmental standards, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, the European Union's chief negotiator for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks, told reporters while in Berlin.
“The negotiations will be difficult,” Bercero said. “There are certain areas where we won't make compromises,” he said. Hormone-treated meat would not be tolerated in the EU, he said. “This won't change during the negotiations.” Strict obligations would also apply to chemicals and environmental products.
Concerning the time frame of the TTIP negotiations, Bercero said, “Such complex negotiations cannot be done in a rush.” The U.S. presidential elections in 2016 could be an important factor, he said.
Rupert Schlegelmilch, the European Commission's director of services and investment, intellectual property, and public procurement at the Directorate-General for Trade in Brussels, said at the Feb. 11 press briefing that public service business areas such as water distribution or public transport would not be for sale during the TTIP negotiations.
“I want to make this very clear: we're not planning to force any township in Germany or Europe to liberalise,” he said.
Further, Schlegelmilch said that the proposed dispute settlement procedures would not undermine investment protection rights. The TTIP agreement should make the protection of investments clearer and limited to the core of property rights, he said, adding that not every expectation on earnings and every fiscal conditionality should provide a basis for damage claims. Companies should not be able to take advantage of regulations on investment protection to undermine social and environmental standards, he said.
The European Commission will aim for a model bilateral investment agreement and wants to engage in a public dialogue on investment protection in March, Schlegelmilch said. At the end of January, the European Commission decided to suspend TTIP investor protection talks to start public consultations as a reaction to substantial criticism.
Representatives of the EU and the U.S. will meet for the fourth round of TTIP negotiations in Brussels March 10-14.
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will meet U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in Washington, D.C., Feb. 17-18 to guide their chief negotiators on the next steps for the negotiations.
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