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30 January 2014

Trade union reps in expert group on EU-US trade negotiations

On 27 January, the European Commission announced the setting up of an advisory group of experts representing a broad range of interests, from environmental, health, consumer and workers’ interests to different business sectors to advise EU trade negotiators who will be negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the USA.

"The members' broad representation of interests will help to ensure that Europe's high standards in, for example, protection for consumers and the environment, are respected and upheld in the negotiations", states the Commission's press release.

Ignacio Garcia Bercero, the EU chief negotiator, will chair the group. The members are experts in consumer interests, labour law, the environment and public health, business, manufacturing, agriculture and services sectors.

Among the 14 members of the expert group, European Trade Union organisations are represented by Ulrich Eckelmann (industriALL) and Tom Jenkins (European Trade Union Confederation).

The group met informally on 21 January 2014 to discuss initial working arrangements and practical details. The first full working session will be held on 25 February 2014.

The Commission also published what it called a 'non-paper' on financial services, another problematic TTIP area. “The EU believes that financial regulation is too important to be discussed ad hoc, in informal settings at the very last minute, under market pressure,” the Commission's discussion paper states. “To respond to these concerns, the EU proposed that TTIP establishes a framework for regulatory co-operation in financial services.”

The TTIP negotiations started in July 2013 and aim to remove trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors, to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the EU and the US. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for 10-14 March 2014.

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