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Article - TTIP

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)


Negotiations about TTIP between the EU and the United States began in summer 2013. The talks were put on hold in early 2017, when the new U.S. Administration took office, and are yet to be resumed.

TTIP has the potential to be a political tool of shaping economic globalisation. A transatlantic trade agreement provides an opportunity for Europe and the United States, the world’s two largest trading blocs, to set standards. TTIP is designed to help make the rules governing the European and U.S. economies more compatible, which will facilitate trade and investment.

Much of the focus in the 15 rounds of negotiations that have taken place so far has been on eliminating tariffs and other trade barriers between the European Union and the United States of America.

The aim is to further open up the markets on both sides of the Atlantic. Also, TTIP should reduce restrictions on commercial services, improve investment security and fair competition and facilitate access to public contracts at all levels of government.

Data and facts at a glance The EU and the United States account for...

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percent of all the stock of foreign direct investment

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percent of global production (calculated in U.S. dollars)

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percent of gross domestic product in purchasing power parity

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of all global patent registrations

The negotiations

The basis: a joint negotiating mandate from the Member States

On the European side, the negotiations for TTIP were conducted by the European Commission, or, to be more precise, by its Directorate-General for Trade. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is the commissioner with political responsibility for the TTIP negotiations.

The basis for the negotiations is a joint negotiating mandate from the EU Member States. The German government, just like all the other national governments of the EU member states, was involved in the drafting of the negotiating mandate. In line with Germany’s clearly stated desire, the European Commission published the negotiating mandate on 9 October 2014.

Status of the negotiations

In August 2016, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy undertook a comprehensive evaluation of the state of play. Agreement had yet to be reached on any of the 27-30 chapters of the agreement at that time, although positions had moved closer together on some of them.

The stock-taking by the EU trade ministers also came to the conclusion that the negotiations could not be concluded whilst the Obama administration was still in office. The latest of 15 rounds so far took place in New York from 3 to 7 October 2016. The drafting work continued at technical level until January 2017 and a joint report was drawn up by the European Commission and the USTR to document the state-of-play of the negotiations. The talks were suspended in January 2017.

EU publishes draft texts and position papers

Regarding many chapters of the planned agreement, the European Commission has published both easy-to-understand 2-page factsheets and specific proposals for wordings which are being used in the negotiations with the U.S..

For example, after the twelfth round of negotiations, the European Commission published a revised proposal on regulatory cooperation between the EU and the U.S.. Also, since the 11th round of negotiations, the European Commission has provided detailed reports to the public in all the EU languages.

Flags of the US and the EU; Quelle: Trifunovic

Rounds of TTIP negotiations: progress and outcome



7 October 2016 – 15th round of negotiations



15 July 2016 – 14th round of negotiations



29 April 2016 – 13th round of negotiations



22 February 2016 – 12th round of negotiations



27 November 2015 – EU Member States call for new investment protection



19 October 2015 – 11th round of negotiations



10 October 2015 – Open letter from Sigmar Gabriel



13 July 2015 – 10th round of negotiations



20 April 2015 – 9th round of negotiations



2 February 2015 – 8th round of negotiations



9 October 2014 – Publication of the EU negotiating mandate



29 September 2014 – 7th round of negotiations



14 July 2014 – 6th round of negotiations



21 May 2014 – TTIP advisory board of Economic Affairs Ministry is set up



19 May 2014 – 5th round of negotiations



10 March 2014 – 4th round of negotiations



16 December 2013 – 3rd round of negotiations



11 November 2013 – 2nd round of negotiations



8 July 2013 – Launch of the negotiations on TTIP



17 June 2013 – Barroso and Obama announce launch of TTIP negotiations

From 3-7 October 2016 in New York, negotiations were continued in all areas, but focused on the key pillar of regulation, for example on the topic of regulatory co-operation.

The 14th round of negotiations took place in Brussels from 11-15 July 2016. The focus was on market access for companies, digital trade, regulatory cooperation, energy and raw materials. The European Commission proposed important additions to the Sustainability Chapter.

Almost all the substantive aspects of the envisaged agreement were intensively negotiated in New York from 25-29 April 2016. The texts from both sides on questions of regulatory cooperation and better regulation via cooperation between the regulatory authorities were consolidated.

The talks in Brussels from 22-26 February 2015 addressed issues like investment protection, regulatory cooperation and the opening of the U.S. procurement markets for European companies. The proposal for a modern system of investment protection was discussed for the first time.

The EU Member States officially express their backing for the European Commission’s draft of a new, modern approach to investment protection in TTIP. The idea is that investment tribunals should have transparent procedures and publicly appointed judges.

The eleventh round of EU-U.S. negotiations on TTIP was held in Miami, Florida, from 19 until 23 October 2015. During this round, various groups of experts from both sides debated issues around market access, regulation and trade rules.

In an open letter, the then Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel addresses the fears that many people have about TTIP and makes it clear that only democratically elected parliaments will decide in Europe about consumer and environmental protection, social security and cultural diversity

The tenth round of negotiations on TTIP was held in Brussels from 13-17 July 2015. Much of this round was dedicated to the issue of market access for providers of services. The negotiators discussed each other’s revised offers.

The ninth round of negotiations on TTIP took place in New York from 20-24 April. All issues except for investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement were on the agenda of the five-day negotiations.

The eighth round of TTIP negotiations in Brussels from 2-6 February 2015 focused on coming closer together on regulations and standards on technical issues, energy and raw materials, and on services, investment and public procurement.

In the negotiations on the envisaged free trade agreement, the European Commission is bound by the mandate to negotiate granted to it by the EU Member States. The disclosure of the text of the mandate makes the negotiations more transparent.

The seventh round of negotiations took place from 29 September to 3 October 2014 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The first priority of this round of negotiations was to promote the negotiations on a technical level. One of the key areas of focus was regulatory cooperation.

The discussions from 14-18 July 2014 focussed on reducing tariffs and on bringing rules, regulations, and standards for services, copyright, telecommunications, and the environment closer together. One of the key areas of focus was regulatory cooperation.

The advisory board set up at the initiative of former Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel discusses the ongoing TTIP negotiations. This new advisory group is composed of representatives from trade unions, welfare, environmental and consumer associations, from the creative arts, and other fields.

The fifth round of negotiations took place in Arlington, Virginia from 19-23 May 2014. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has produced a paper detailing the key outcomes.

The negotiations in Brussels from 10-14 March 2014 continued the talks on market access, regulatory issues and rules. The focus was particularly on “Small and medium-sized enterprises” (SMEs). Both sides agreed that there should be a specific SME chapter in TTIP.

The talks in Washington D.C. between 16 and 20 December 2013 touched on almost all of the issues: these included services, investment protection, technical barriers to trade, sanitary measures, SMEs, competition, intellectual property rights, labour, environment, energy and raw materials.

The EU and the U.S. conducted negotiations in Brussels from 11-15 November 2013 on market access, regulatory issues and trade rules – and about the specific fields of investment, services, energy, raw materials, regulatory cooperation and sectors. The first texts were presented and discussed.

In the first round of negotiations on TTIP in Washington on 8-12 July 2013, the European Commission and the U.S. administration discussed procedural issues, timing and substance of the talks. With regard to market access, discussions covered trade in goods/services, procurement and rules of origin.

The then incumbent U.S. President Obama and the then incumbent President of the European Commission Barroso announce the beginning of the negotiations for TTIP at the G8 summit meeting in Lough Erne (UK).

The issues

Boosting growth and employment by removing barriers to transatlantic trade

Intensifying trade should increase the number of jobs on offer, expand product diversity and in some cases result in lower prices for consumers. The EU will retain its basic laws on the protection of people, animals and the environment.

An ambitious agreement that would go well beyond cutting tariffs would serve consumers and companies in many different ways. This is why the German government favours such a far-reaching agreement. Despite the many years of efforts to liberalise world trade, many obstacles impeding free transatlantic trade in goods remain in place. Apart from tariffs, which have already been brought down to comparatively low levels, it is mostly non-tariff barriers to trade (such as differences in technical requirements for products) that drive up costs in trade relations between the EU and the U.S.. This is due to the fact that manufacturers have to produce two different versions of the same product to meet the respective requirements of the EU and the U.S. markets. And this is precisely what TTIP aims to change: TTIP would give us an opportunity to make rules and regulations for business in Europe and the U.S. more compatible in the long term. It is extremely important for the Federal Government to maintain the high level of protection for European consumers.

Lower tariffs, better coordination

A key objective of TTIP was to reduce tariffs. Studies have shown that a full reduction of tariffs could save German firms billions of euros, and greater coordination of regulations and standards is expected to provide even greater impetus. Greater coordination on standards, testing and authorisations could do away with an enormous amount of costs. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany which have often not been able to afford new certifications in the U.S. would particularly benefit from this.

SMEs in particular benefit from better coordination and simpler rules

Both trading areas already have very high standards for product safety, environmental and consumer protection. A large number of technical standards – e.g. in the automotive industry – are defined differently in the U.S. and the EU, but have the same objective. This applies, e.g. to the size of rear-view mirrors, the strength of metal sheets, the size and load-bearing capacity of rims, the procedure for measuring emissions and the assignment of authorisations. The recognition of equal standards or the abolition of duplicated licensing procedures that are comparable can achieve cost benefits and synergy effects here.

Aligning standards and procedures – without any loss of consumer protection

An important point for consumers: The EU will not repeal any of its basic laws on the protection of people, animals and the environment. Rather, various standards and procedures will be harmonised in any areas where bureaucratic barriers can be removed without reducing consumer protection. Public service provision will not be affected by TTIP either. The high level of protection for certain basic services at a local level in relation to water, health and education in Europe has never been not up for debate.

In focus: investment protection

Investment protection and dispute settlement

Not least, wide-ranging public consultation has shown that the issue of investment protection is highly contentious. In response, the European Commission presented a proposal in September 2015 for a modern approach to investment protection in TTIP. It envisages a move away from the present investor-state dispute settlement and suggests substantive reforms.

The German government’s view

The German government takes the view that special investment protection provisions are not required in an agreement between the EU and the U.S. as foreign investors in the U.S. and Germany enjoy sufficient legal protection through the national courts. The European Commission and several other EU Member States, however, want to include investment protection provisions in free trade agreements with industrialised countries such as Canada and the U.S..

The German government therefore believes that TTIP offers an opportunity to reform the existing investment protection system and to set a standard for modern investment protection and a more law-based, transparent dispute-settlement procedure with a public trade and investment court. Significant progress has already been made.

European Commission with new proposal on investment protection

In September 2015, the European Commission tabled a proposal for modern investment protection under TTIP. Much of this proposal goes back to initiatives taken by Germany, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark and Sweden. Following detailed discussions with the EU Member States and the European Parliament, the proposal was submitted to the U.S. on 12 November 2015 and published. On 27 November 2015, the EU Member States formally adopted Council Conclusions expressing their support for a modern and profoundly new investment-protection mechanism.

The proposed text for reformed investment protection is to form a basis not only for TTIP, but also for other agreements covering investment protection. For example, the afore-mentioned points have been included in the CETA free trade agreement, which was signed by the EU, the EU Member States and Canada at the end of October 2016. Besides this, it is to be the first step towards an International Trade and Investment Tribunal. The EU’s proposal for an investment chapter in TTIP can be found here.

Transparency and participation

For an open and objective debate on TTIP

The Economic Affairs Ministry involved civil society, business associations and research establishments in the debate about the details of TTIP and advocated an open and objective debate. After all, TTIP is a project that is meant to benefit the general public and business, on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Federal Government attached great importance to the greatest possible transparency of the negotiations, including a lively democratic debate. A clear factual basis was needed to discuss the pros and cons of TTIP. The Economic Affairs Ministry has compiled the main assertions and facts (in German). In addition, the Federal Government has given the members of the Bundestag and the Bundesrat full access to the current state of negotiations. From 1 February 2016, the so-called consolidated negotiation texts could be viewed in a TTIP reading room at the Federal Economic Affairs Ministry. The staff of the government can also use the reading room.

Dialogue forums and initiatives organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

Since the beginning of the talks, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has been holding regular events to promote dialogue with citizens, NGOs, business associations, and trade unions, to inform them about the state of the negotiations and provide opportunities for objective discussions. The ministry also reported to the Bundestag and the Länder and supplied them with the relevant reports and information.

  • TTIP Advisory Group at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

In May 2014, the TTIP Advisory Group, a body set up by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, convened for the first time. The group met to discuss the ongoing TTIP negotiations and helped to establish the German position for the TTIP agreement. The Advisory Group included representatives from trade unions, welfare, environmental and consumer associations and from the creative arts. As the negotiations between the EU and the U.S. have been suspended, no further meetings are planned.

  • Dialogue forums organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

The ministry’s dialogue and discussion forums provide opportunities for citizens, business representatives, trade unions and civil society organisations to state their views and ask questions related to TTIP, but also to discuss opportunities and challenges and address concerns.

Dialogue and consultation services of the European Commission

The European Commission has also been committed to keep the public, associations, NGOs, trade unions, and civil society groups fully informed about the negotiations on TTIP. Multiple consultations (e.g. on investment protection) have already been carried out in the lead-up to the negotiations at EU level. Furthermore, the European Commission has made position papers public and is conducting hearings during each round of negotiations. It has also been hosting various information events.

As part of its transparency initiative, the Commission has been publishing two-page fact sheets since February 2015; these cover the negotiating text presented by the U.S. negotiators and position papers on the issues up for negotiation. You can find out more about this here.

Clear position, comprehensive information

The Economic Affairs Ministry relied on transparency and dialogue. A clear factual basis was needed in order to discuss the pros and cons of TTIP. The Economic Affairs Ministry has drafted joint positions on TTIP with various players in society; these papers also discuss critical points.

Press releases

Further information