At its July plenary, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) argued that the new Trade and Technology Council (TTC) can become an innovative tool for both the EU and USA to work together towards a safer and more prosperous world, based on the principles of sustainable development and democratic values. The Council is designed as a participatory process and as such it needs to prove in practice its transparency and strong engagement with civil society and stakeholders.
Launched a year ago at the EU-US summit in Brussels on 15 June 2021, the Trade and Technology Council (TTC) must take the lead to protect democratic values and rules-based trade in turbulent geopolitical times. It can form the core of an agenda to reboot the partnership with trusted channels of cooperation.
Christa Schweng EESC President, said:
The Trade and Technology Council is a new way of cooperation, an innovative and participatory one. Its key objective must be to explore ways on how trade and technology can work better for our societies. Organised civil society on both sides of the Atlantic needs to play a relevant role in TTC. This needs to be transparent and inclusive.
The EU and the USA still have the most integrated, bilateral economic relationship in the world, equal to half of world GDP and one third of world trade flows. However, the economist and writer Fredrik Erixon, who was invited to speak at the plenary, pointed out that both continents were in relative economic decline, meaning that their share of world's GDP is going down, as other merchant markets are growing faster.
Mr Erixon explained that this initiative was a new opportunity for the USA and Europe to command influence in the world's economy, by being united, seeking collaborations with like-minded countries that share their basic economic and political values.
Views on both sides are converging on how the world is changing and what that entails for both the EU and USA, resulting in a world that could be dominated by regimes that do not share democratic values, Mr Erixon underlined.
In its own-initiative opinion on The new EU-US Trade and Technology Council in action: priorities for business, workers and consumers and necessary safeguards, the EESC highlights the priorities of the TTC, mainly the need to set common policies and to respond to acute market disruption by ensuring global value and supply chains, energy, food security and raw materials.
Timo Vuori, EESC member and rapporteur of the opinion, stressed the role of transparency and strong stakeholder engagement on both sides of the Atlantic, insisting on the need for good cooperation.
The EU-US TTC must, in the short and long term, deliver solutions to improve the bilateral and international trade environment. Otherwise, the TTC may lose its momentum, ceasing to be an effective platform for dealing with practical challenges, said Mr Vuori.
Tanja Buzek, EESC member and co-rapporteur of the opinion welcomed the newly established tripartite Trade and Labour Dialogue, creating a formal channel for social partners on both sides of the Atlantic, to inform the TTC process and shape transatlantic trade and investment relations. Using technology to detect forced labour could show the TTC in action. Ms. Buzek also added that the Council should be independent of political cycles, constituting to long-term, stable institutional democratic platform for the transatlantic partnership.