European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström today reiterated her ambition to finalize the EU’s trade agreement with the U.S. this year, but also said it doesn’t mean the talks have failed if that deadline can’t be met.
“We will do our utmost to get this done,” she said at a conference on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in Stockholm. “[But] if this is not possible for different reasons, it is not in anybody’s interest to declare, ‘Rest in peace and go on.’”
Elaborating on such a potential scenario, she continued that by then “we will hopefully have achieved as much as possible” so the next U.S. president could build up on that, taking into account the “very close relationship” between the EU and the United States.
“It doesn’t mean the death of TTIP; it means delay of TTIP. How long, impossible to say,” she said.
Her negotiating counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, also said “there is no Plan B” in case talks can’t be finished by the end of this year, but warned of changing circumstances in global trading rules and influence if TTIP gets delayed.
“If it gets delayed three years, to five years, to seven years into the future because of whatever the remaining differences are, that doesn’t mean that the status quo is going to remain either,” Froman said. “We either work together to help set the rules of the world, or we leave that role to others … who don’t necessarily share the same kind of values … that we have.”