THE EUROPEAN UNION
PR CO 31
3245th Council meeting
Luxembourg, 14 June 2013
President Mr Richard Bruton
Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation of Ireland
Main results of the Council
The Council approved a mandate for the negotiation of a comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the United States.
It decided to bring forward the dates of next year's European Parliament elections from the beginning of June to 22-25 May. The Parliament had asked for the change so that it could better organise itself in electing a new President of the Commission and avoid the beginning of the summer vacation in several member states.
The Council also took note of an agreement reached with the European Parliament on the so-called Omnibus I and II dossiers, involving regulatory changes to EU decision-making procedures for trade policy.
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OTHER ITEMS APPROVED
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DECISION TAKEN BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE
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Mr Didier REYNDERS Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign , External Trade and European Affairs
Mr Dimiter TZANTCHEV Permanent Representative
Mr Milan HOVORKA Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade
Ms Pia Olsen DYHR Minister for Trade and Investments
Ms Anne Ruth HERKES State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology
Mr Matti MAASIKAS Permanent Representative
Mr Richard BRUTON Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation
Mr Panagiotis MITARACHI Deputy Minister, Ministry for Development, Competitiveness, Maritime Affairs and Technology
Mr Jaime GARCÍA-LEGAZ PONCE State Secretary for Trade
Ms Nicole BRICQ Minister for Foreign Trade
Mr Carlo CALENDA Deputy Minister of Economic Development
Mr Kornelios KORNELIOU Permanent Representative
Mr Juris PŪCE State Secretary, Ministry of the Economy
Mr Linas LINKEVIČIUS Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr Christian BRAUN Permanent Representative
Mr Szabolcs TAKÁCS Deputy State Secretary for Global Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Ms Marlene BONNICI Permanent Representative
Ms Lilianne PLOUMEN Minister For Foreign Trade and development Cooperation
Mr Hubert HEISS Ambassador, Acting Permanent Representative
Mr Andrzej DYCHA Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of the Economy
Mr Miguel MORAIS LEITÃO State Secretary attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for European Affairs
Mr Manuel Marian DONESCU State Secretary, Ministry of the Economy (responsible for foreign trade)
Mr Rado GENORIO Permanent Representative
Mr Dušan PETRÍK State Secretary at the Ministry of the Economy
Mr Alexander STUBB Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade
Ms Ewa BJÖRLING Minister for Trade
Mr Vince CABLE Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
Mr Karel DE GUCHT Member
The Government of the Acceding State was represented as follows:
Mr Joško KLISOVIĆ Deputy Minister for Foreign and European Affairs
EU-US TRADE RELATIONS
The Council approved a mandate for the Commission to negotiate a comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the United States, the "transatlantic trade and investment partnership" (TTIP).
The mandate is composed of a decision of the Council and a decision of the representatives of the member states authorising the opening of negotiations, as well as directives for the negotiation of the agreement. The directives foresee an agreement made up of three key components: market access; regulatory issues and non-tariff barriers; and rules.
The Council agreed that audiovisual services will not be covered in the mandate, but that the Commission will have the opportunity to make recommendations on additional negotiating mandates.
The EU is now ready to launch negotiations with the US. The Commission will negotiate on behalf of the EU and its member states, keeping the Trade Policy Committee and the European Parliament regularly informed and updated. The final agreement will be concluded by the Council and the member states after having obtained the ‘consent’ of the European Parliament.
The EU is the US's largest trading partner, while the United States is the EU's second-largest trading partner, with 17.6 % and 13.9 % respectively of each other's trade in goods in 2011. Together the EU and the United States account for almost half of global GDP and one-third of total world trade.
According to an impact assessment by the Commission, a comprehensive trade and investment agreement could increase EU GDP by between 0.27 % and 0.48 %, and EU gross national income by up to € 86 billion.
The decision to negotiate stems from the recommendations of a high-level working group on jobs and growth, established following an EU-US summit in Washington DC in November 2011. The working group set out to identify options for increasing trade and investment. Co-chaired by US trade representative Ron Kirk and EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht, it published its final report in February 2013.
The European Council in February called on the Commission and the Council to follow up without delay on the recommendations of the high-level working group, during the current (Irish) presidency.
The negotiations will strive for a comprehensive and ambitious agreement that addresses a broad range of bilateral trade and investment issues, including regulatory issues, with the aim of attaining market access that goes beyond what the US and the EU have achieved in previous trade agreements. The removal of unnecessary regulatory and non-tariff barriers will be a key objective.
EU-CANADA TRADE NEGOTIATIONS
Ministers over lunch were briefed by the Commission on developments in the negotiations on a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada.
They confirmed full support for the Commission's approach in providing the impetus needed for finalising the talks, and encouraged it to continue providing full and timely information on progress made, looking forward to a rapid conclusion.
The European Council in February said it expected the negotiations with Canada "to be concluded very shortly." The latest round of discussions between chief negotiators took place in Brussels in the week of 27 May.
In 2011 Canada was the EU's 11th most important trading partner while the EU was Canada's second-largest trading partner, with 1.8 % and 12 % respectively of each other's external trade.
The talks have been ongoing for more than three years. In April 2009, the Council provided a mandate for the Commission to negotiate a comprehensive economic and trade agreement (CETA) with Canada. Negotiations were launched at the EU-Canada summit in Prague the following month. In September 2011, the Council authorised the Commission to start talks on investment within the framework of those negotiations.
The Council welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations with the European Parliament on "Omnibus I & II" proposals on the procedures used for decision-making under the EU's common commercial policy
The two draft regulations are aimed at modifying a number of regulations adopted between 1972 and 2009, adapting them to decision-making procedures provided for by the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force in December 2009.
Based on article 207(2) of the TFEU, the two regulations require a qualified majority for adoption by the Council, in agreement with the Parliament. The presidency reached an agreement with the Parliament on 5 June.
Labour conditions in Bangladesh
The Council discussed labour conditions in Bangladesh following recent accidents involving workers in garment factories. It regretted the tragic loss of life.
Over lunch, ministers discussed the EU's trade relations with China, in particular the proposed launch of negotiations on an investment agreement, as well as trade defence issues, including antidumping.
The European Council in February noted that the EU-China trade agenda in the short term should focus on investment, market access, procurement and intellectual property rights. On 24 May, the Commission presented a recommendation for a Council decision authorising it to negotiate an investment agreement with China.
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED
Election period for the European Parliament
The Council adopted a decision bringing forward the period of the next European Parliament's elections from 5-8 June to 22-25 May 2014 (10101/13 + 10396/13 + ADD 1).
This follows the positive opinion of the European Parliament given on 21 May. The main objective of advancing the electoral period is to ensure optimal conditions for the elections and hereby to strengthen the European Parliament's legitimacy. It responds to a request by the Parliament from 2005. At this time, the Parliament asked to bring forward the date of the election to May so that it can better organise itself to expedite the election of a new President of the Commission and avoid the beginning of the summer vacation in several member states.
For background, see 10917/13.
DECISION TAKEN BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE
WTO - Intellectual property
The Council adopted, on 10 June 2013, a decision establishing the position to be taken by the EU, within the WTO's TRIPS1 Council, on a request for the extension of a transition period for least developed countries, exempting them from most TRIPS obligations.
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