Members of European Parliament are in favor of starting talks toward the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a free-trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, but warn they must be kept apprised of the discussions.
In a resolution voted on Thursday, members also said any agreement must protect Europe’s cultural and audiovisual services market, and provide EU firms with access to U.S. public procurement markets. American restrictions on EU suppliers of ocean and air transport services must also be removed.
The vast majority of parliament members gave the OK to start talks, with 460 voting in favor and 105 against with 17 abstentions. A vote that cultural services be excluded from negotiations also passed by a large margin.
“An ambitious and comprehensive agreement would give a badly-needed, low-cost boost to our economies,” member Vital Moreira said before the vote. “This resolution should now be duly taken into account by the council and the commission, as Parliament will only give its final consent if we have a positive outcome for our businesses, workers and citizens.
In January, U.S. and EU officials announced they would pursue a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement. For Europe, officials say such a deal would boost GDP by 0.5 percent.
The EU Council of Ministers must now authorize negotiations and approve directives, a step that will likely occur in June. If that occurs, talks would begin in July, with an eye toward completion by the end of next year. - Jon Ross