Nicole Bricq, French Minister for Foreign Trade : "The transatlantic partnership – an opportunity for France"
"The president of the United States and the President of the Commission want to launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The Commission has just adopted a proposal for a negotiating mandate which it will submit to the member states for approval. I will carefully examine it in the context of our values and our interests, in accordance with the course set by President Hollande.
Nevertheless, I welcome this initiative since I’m aware that while the world is going through a period of great change, any attempt at pulling out would eventually cost our people dearly. I will therefore engage in the discussions with conviction, realism, determination and …ambition.
Conviction, because this agreement would recognize the prominent position of Europe, which is still the world’s leading economic power, at a time when the specialists in geopolitics are announcing the Pacific century and a shift - with little nostalgia - from the United States to Asia. Partnerships, competitiveness and markets will continue to be very Euro-American for a long time to come with respect to renewable energy, biotechnology, digital technology, and services. I have launched an extensive consultation process with our companies. A very large majority of them are positive and consider the process to be thought-provoking.
Realism because I’m aware of the obstacles that we will find along the way. Our decision-making structures are not the same: the United States is a federal country. In many cases, it’s the states that establish rules that may constitute barriers to our exports.
Beyond the shared values that have made us allies during the most difficult and most critical moments of our history, the world-views of our citizens differ on a number of issues, starting with the attachment to solidarity in Europe and the religious element in public life in the United States.
Determination: don’t count on me to undermine, under the mantra of free trade, the choices we make as a society. I am of course thinking of food and environmental security: European policy isn’t based on economic protectionism but on a deliberate attempt to protect consumers and guarantee the quality of the products offered to them. I am also thinking of the audiovisual sector which should be clearly excluded from the agreement; the creative sector cannot just be confined to its economic “translation.” I’m thinking of the central issue of the privacy of internet users who shouldn’t become “objects of consumption” in societies whose economic model may be based on the manipulation of buying impulses rather than on a desire to help people communicate more effectively. I will not budge on all these points.
Ambition: this relates to the scope of the negotiations. Let’s dream a little with respect to public procurement. Why not replace “Buy American” which penalizes our companies with “Buy transatlantic” which reflects the depth of our mutual commitment? And, in Europe, why not allow exceptions in public procurement orders in order to support SMEs and disadvantaged populations, who contribute to the dynamism of American entrepreneurship.
With respect to social and environmental issues, President Obama’s administration is closer to the Europeans than the United States traditionally is. Why not take advantage of this in order to develop a common set of standards which will become a universal reference so that future exchanges can be founded to a greater extent on the respect and the development of individuals and the environment?
In short, this agreement must be ambitious and innovative. And I will bear in mind that, to make sense historically, the EU must become a more integrated center for development, aimed at increasing its global competitiveness through all forms of innovation. This is the prerequisite in order to be able to shape globalization and to achieve the environmental transition of our economies. "