Europe is about to start trade talks with the US after ambassadors gave a mandate for the European Commission to conduct negotiations on behalf of the bloc and its member states. The negotiations will start despite opposition from France, which is concerned over Washington’s intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. Member states are looking for a new verbiage that reflects French concerns. France recognized the efforts but the new text was not good enough to defend environmental standards.
The mandate would allow the US and the EU to work collaboratively towards the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods on a conformity assessment, setting out the requirements for products to be marketed in the European market. Any prospective agreement needs to work hand in hand with the deal the Commission is planning to negotiate to get rid of non-tariffs barriers. Apart from its concern about the US attitude on climate change, following Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in 2017, French leadership also criticized the alleged lack of access to US public procurement markets for EU companies.
“I am not in favor of having new trade deals, in whatever form, with whoever is, with partners that do not have the same climate standards that we have because that would be unfair competition for our companies, our farmers…,” President Emmanuel Macron commented. Paris thinks that the EU should have guarantees as to the next steps regarding climate change policy. The French intend to keep on fighting from the European Parliament after May elections to make sure that no trade agreement is signed if it is not in line with the tenants of the Paris deal.