Interview with EU commissioner-designate for trade

Coming out on top with TTIP

Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner-deisgnate for trade
Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner-deisgnate for trade
Photo: Guy Jallay

The "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" (TTIP) between the EU and US will set the standard for the 21st century. With approximately 800 million consumers, it is expected to build the largest economy in the world by eliminating tariffs and trade barriers as well as lifting bureaucratic obstacles vanish.

Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is negotiating TTIP terms on behalf of the 28 EU countries with the United States. In an exclusive interview with the "Luxemburger Wort" she highlights the benefits of this pact along with the fears and concerns of consumers.

What are the benefits of TTIP?

The main advantages are economic: Almost all tariff barriers are eliminated, unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles are eliminated, European firms get new export opportunities. The mutual recognition of technical standards, for example in the automotive industry, considerable costs can be saved.

And the disadvantages?

In a competitive world, there are always companies better able to cope with competition, and others that are less well prepared for it. I am convinced that the bottom line is that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far. Many European citizens are not so enthusiastic.

Are the numerous protests against TTIP weakening your negotiating position?

Overall, the demand for TTIP is very high, which is reflected in a recent Euro barometer survey. 58 percent of citizens in the 28 EU Member States are for TTIP, according to this survey. This is anything but a highly popular. In Germany, Austria and Luxembourg, where most of the critics are found, they are in the minority. In all other countries, the vast majority of the population has a positive attitude. In the Netherlands, for example, 74 percent of citizens are for TTIP.

Proponents do not need to be converted. But what do you say to the opponents?

I try as much as possible to get in touch with the critics. Many of them are not per se against TTIP, but they have legitimate concerns. I take this input into the negotiations.

Chlorine chicken became a symbol of TTIP. Will it end up on the plates of European consumers?

No, that's a myth. In Europe, we have high standards of consumer protection that will not be compromised by a trade agreement. Genetically modified foods are not allowed in Europe, hormone-treated meat is also taboo here, and chlorine-treated chickens are prohibited.

Translated from an article by Pierre Leyers

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