Key Issues for TTIP: A Conversation with Karel De Gucht, EU Commissioner for Trade

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September 9, 2014

Through the Trans-Atlantic Energy Action Project, The Lugar Center and the German Marshall Fund of the United States are partnering to improve understanding of trans-Atlantic opportunities for energy security and economic cooperation, particularly in relation to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The project's first event brought EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht to the German Marshall Fund for a discussion on TTIP, energy, and transatlantic relations. Former United States Senator Richard Lugar offered introductory remarks.

"In a world in which the United States and our allies in Europe face proximate and severe security pressures in the Middle East, from Russia, and Iran, it can be tempting to take for granted the robustness of our trans-Atlantic cultural and economic ties. That would be a mistake.
Flows of goods and services, integrated supply chains, flexible capital flows, and open labor movement form societal ties that are more far-reaching throughout our societies than are bilateral agreements between Washington and Brussels."

                -Senator Richard Lugar (Ret.)

See pictures from the event here.

Senator Lugar's full remarks appear below:

"I welcome you all to this conversation on the future of trans-Atlantic trade and energy. I especially want to welcome the distinguished Karel de Gucht, the European Union Commissioner for Trade. I also thank Karen Donfried for hosting us this morning and moderating what I am sure will be a robust conversation.


Trade agreements and energy policy historically have had limited overlap. With few exceptions, energy has been an after-thought in U.S. bilateral trade deals.


Yet, at this time when bolstering energy security is critical to the strength of our broad security alliance, welcome attention is being paid to the possible role for energy in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership now under negotiation. The decisions made in TTIP may set new precedents for trade agreements for years to come.


Recognizing the opportunities and challenges of navigating new ground that combines trade and energy policy, The Lugar Center and German Marshall Fund have joined efforts to build a more informed and connected community in Washington. Everyone in this room was invited to join today because of the important role you can play in shaping the future of TTIP.


In a world in which the United States and our allies in Europe face proximate and severe security pressures in the Middle East, from Russia, and Iran, it can be tempting to take for granted the robustness of our trans-Atlantic cultural and economic ties. That would be a mistake.


Flows of goods and services, integrated supply chains, flexible capital flows, and open labor movement form societal ties that are more far-reaching throughout our societies than are bilateral agreements between Washington and Brussels. In the face of external -- and some would say existential -- threats to our systems of governance and economics, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership can revalidate our shared cultural understanding, reinforce our trans-Atlantic ties, and strengthen fundamentals for economic growth.


Lofty purposes are no substitute for ensuring robust treaty provisions that will bring tangible benefits to citizens of the United States and Europe alike. We should think carefully about how specific energy needs can be productively advanced within the framework of a trade agreement.


In my judgment, TTIP will have an important role to play in continued development of our energy markets for at least three reasons. First, Europe’s energy vulnerability is a severe concern on both sides of the Atlantic. Certain European nations are unacceptably isolated and overly-dependent on Russian supply. Overcoming that issue requires all tools of diplomacy, and trade provisions can help build more competitive markets.


Second, the U.S. has long-benefited from its advocacy of open markets and free trade. Taking a step backward toward resource nationalism of our oil and gas wealth will ultimately undermine our long-term energy security and economic interests abroad. We must open our markets, divorced from political interference, as we ask other nations to do. Allowing our European allies to purchase oil and gas should occur expeditiously, and TTIP can help ensure a long-term fair playing field.


Third, economic competitiveness demands constant innovation in the ways we generate energy and use it more efficiently. Trade in ideas, technology, and energy services will increase healthy competition between the U.S. and Europe, as well as strengthen each of our industries on a global scale.


As a final thought, I’d add that we also must be mindful of TTIP’s impacts beyond our two jurisdictions. Parenthetically, as negotiators consider agriculture provisions, we need to ensure that our own barriers to trade do not harm the world’s poorest. Meeting the world’s need for food demands flexibility to use multiple technical innovations from seed to field to maximize productivity.
Once again, thank you, Mr. Commissioner, for joining us this morning. I also thank Neil Brown for leading this project on our behalf and the European Union’s delegation in Washington for its partnership."

Click here to learn more about the Trans-Atlantic Energy Action Project.

This project is funded in part by the European Union.