EU-US Trade Negotiations Moving On

Written by | Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Representatives of the EU and the United States announced on Sunday (Nov 10) that they would resume trade negotiations during this week. Talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) have been halted because of the shutdown of the U.S. government earlier in October.
Negotiators are about to discuss various issues ranging from investment, services through energy issues and natural resources, but the EU Commission demanded that the talks would not touch upon the issues of data protection and privacy secrecy. The issue of public procurement will be omitted as well, as it had been discussed already before the shutdown.
According to the Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, data protection should be kept off the TTIP agenda but the United States seems to be interesting in keeping the issue on the agenda. In any case, if ready, TTIP will have an impact on many companies – apart from the big players, such as Google or Microsoft, basically the entire IT sector, for which data protection is an important issue. Mrs. Reding however believes that data protection and privacy secrecy are issue fundamentally different from trade notions, such as tariffs or subsidies, and should therefore be discussed separately.
EU-US data protection relations have been worsened recently following the October decision of the EU Parliament regarding the U.S. access to global financial databases in Belgium. MEPs then voted to curb Washington’s ability to follow international payments and demanded that there would be more privacy regarding data protection even from IT giants such as Google, Facebook or Yahoo!, which in the opinion of EU policy-makers violate rules by the way they share data with non-European countries. Nonetheless, following the issue regarding the NSA’s ‘spying’ on Angela Merkel, Berlin has reportedly lobbied the EU Commission to keep the data security issues on the TTIP agenda.

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