EU-US trade treaty will benefit France, says minister

Transatlantic trade partnership – Replies by Mme Fleur Pellerin, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, to questions in the National Assembly (excerpts)

Paris, 20 May 2014

(…)

First of all, on the question of transparency, you say the negotiations are going ahead in a climate of opacity. I agree with you on the need to ensure maximum transparency for these negotiations, not only for our public but also for parliaments. I want to tell you – and I want be very clear on this point – that parliaments will have to decide on the treaty that is negotiated. So you’ll have the last word in agreeing or refusing to ratify the treaty. The democratic concern you express will be respected.

Secondly, you’ve drawn a number of red lines. I can tell you that Manuel Valls’ government shares those red lines, and we also highlighted them during the negotiations on the mandate we granted the Commission.

You mention the arbitration procedure; the Commission has in fact included in the negotiation mandate the possibility of an arbitration mechanism. I can tell you that we’ll be extremely vigilant in ensuring this arbitration mechanism can be negotiated in such a way as to protect our interests, and if that’s not the case we’ll quite simply reject it.

Moreover, you mention personal data. I can tell you that the issue of personal data isn’t being negotiated in the framework of this treaty but by Ms Reding in the framework of the negotiation with the United States on Safe Harbour, the mechanism for transferring data to the United States.

You also mention the questioning of phytosanitary standards; that’s also a red line we’ve spoken about. There’s no question – and I emphasize this to you – of this treaty or these negotiations undermining our collective preferences in phytosanitary terms or in terms of health and consumer protection. Likewise, the treaty will also enable us to protect our designations of origin more, and to benefit our local producers in the best way. (…)

Regarding the other points, I believe we have things to gain from a good treaty. So we must also be able to express what we have to gain from these negotiations.

Do you know, for example, that American procurement contracts are currently closed to 50% of European companies, whereas our European procurement contracts are open to virtually 100% of American companies in particular?

Do you know that customs duties on French cheeses are 139% and that it’s impossible for an exporter of apples and pears, for example, to export to the United States without undergoing extremely lengthy and costly procedures which may sometimes last 10 years and which actually prevent the exports?

So we have things to gain, our economy has gains to make from it, which means investment and jobs in France. This is what we’ve got to defend in the framework of these negotiations.

You’re right, of course; there are red lines and we’ll defend these too. As regards the dispute settlement mechanism, we’ll be careful to ensure that it doesn’t abandon our interests. The European Commission has also opened a consultation, under way at the moment; it will be taken into account in the next stage of the negotiations.

Published on 22/05/2014

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