Implications of the US Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for the ratification of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

Question

Section 104(a)(2) of the US Trade Act of 2015, signed into law by President Obama on 29 June, provides that the US Trade Representative shall consult the US Congress before the ratification of any trade agreement, and keep Congress ‘fully apprised of the measures a trading partner has taken to comply with those provisions of the agreement that are to take effect on the date that the agreement enters into force’.

Section 106(a)(1)(G) further states that a trade agreement can only enter into force if, and only if, the US President ‘submits written notice to Congress that the President has determined that the party [to the agreement] has taken measures necessary to comply with those provisions of the agreement that are to take effect on the date on which the agreement enters into force’.

Is the Commission concerned that these provisions could give the US excessive political leverage to extract additional concessions from the EU or its Member States during the ratification phase of any Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, beyond the actual content of the agreement?

Is it aware of similar provisions applying to the EU ratification process, whether at national or EU level?

Answer

US Congress may entrust the President with a power to conclude and implement international trade agreement, as long as the President observes certain statutory obligations, e.g. the certification procedure.

On the EU side, the procedure for negotiating and concluding international agreements does not provide for a similar certification process. An international agreement may only enter into force when it receives support from all the relevant institutions and Member States, in case of mixed agreements. Its entrance into force is, however, not conditional upon any implementing measures adopted by the other party. The verification of the application of the agreement takes place continuously and above ‐all after the agreement has entered into force. The EU monitors implementing measures taken by a trading partner, and avails itself, if needed, of the bilateral dispute settlement procedure provided for in the agreement.

The Commission will continuously minotor the application by the US of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement, once negotiated. Clearly any significant failure to implement or to prepare the necessary legislation for implementation would be a matter of concern and would need to be factored into the political discussions on ratification of TTIP.

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