Internal documents confirm EU does not expect TTIP revival

The European Commission has released three documents at my request which show the internal thinking on the future of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) under the soon-to-be-inaugurated president Joe Biden.

Internal documents confirm that the European Commission does not envisage a return to TTIP, despite the Biden election.

The documents show that civil servants in the EU’s executive body do not expect the discredited treaty to be revived.

The first document is a summary of a 13 November 2020 Webex meeting between the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA) and civil servants working at the directorate-general (DG) Trade. According to the paper, the VDMA had “requested a meeting to discuss the current state of play of the transatlantic trade relations”. Between redactions, we can read that “broader initiatives like relaunching TTIP is not on the agenda of either the US or the EU”.

The second document reported about a 16 November 2020 meeting between Rupert Schlegelmilch, the director at DG Trade responsible for the Americas, and the Committee on foreign trade and trade policy of the German Car Association VDA. At that meeting Schlegelmilch apparently said a comprehensive deal like TTIP was not to be expected:

Where are the opportunities to progress with the US given that we may only have a short window of opportunity (Biden Presidency may be only for 4 years and we have our own elections in the meantime, such as the French Presidency elections)?
In light of the diverging interests for instance in the agricultural sector, it is not to be expected to see a new comprehensive agreement such as TTIP but rather a possibility for several selfstanding and separate agreements.

The third document released at my request was a briefing for Sabine Weyand, the former deputy Brexit negotiator, who is now director-general – the highest civil servant – at DG Trade. The paper briefed Weyand for her participation at a Financial Times private event called ‘Trade Secrets’ on 8 December 2020. Her ‘line to take’ on TTIP was to say that neither the EU nor the US envisaged a return to TTIP. “This is due to the strong focus on internal affairs that the Biden administration will have and that the US would insist on including agricultural goods in a negotiation – something which is not within the negotiating directives and authorisation to negotiate given to the Commission.”

Hey editors, interested in publishing future scoops like this? I’m a freelance investigative reporter, with a specialty in EU affairs, experience with publishing in English (most notably for The New York Times, EUobserver, Deutsche Welle, and the Christian Science Monitor) and a long history of filing FOI requests on the EU. Contact me here.

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