U.S., EU Agree to Transatlantic Market Pact

The agreed-on draft of an economic treaty to be signed at a bilateral summit on Apr. 30 envisions greater partnership and the elimination of market barriers

The EU and the US have agreed details of an economic pact to be signed off at a bilateral summit later this month, with common standards for companies and new posts to deal with transatlantic issues both in Washington and Brussels on the table.

According to German weekly Der Spiegel, the new partnership was agreed by chancellor Angela Merkel - on behalf of the current German EU presidency - European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and US president George W. Bush ahead of the EU-US summit on 30 April in Washington.

The pact should set the basis for an "extensive economic collaboration between the EU and United States," Der Spiegel writes, with the draft specifically mentioning that the two parties aim for "a transatlantic market without barriers."

The agreed common market conditions would mean recognizing the same norms for various industries and services, such as admission procedures for pharmaceutical, cosmetics and chemical companies, as well as for the car and banking sector.

A German cabinet official declined to comment on the Spiegel article but told AFP agency "We are confident that Mrs Merkel, Mr Barroso and Mr Bush will adopt an ambitious accord to deepen economic transatlantic relations during the American-European summit."

A bolstered transatlantic partnership was one of the key priorities of Mrs Merkel when she took over the EU's six-month chairmanship this January.

She would like the pact to see the light of day by 2015 with a focus on harmonising intellectual property rights, environmental protection, technical standards and trade security.

But earlier this month, Berlin confirmed that its ideas on how to run the regulatory frameworks from either side had run into opposition in the US, with environment and energy security featuring as the most problematic issues.

According to Der Spiegel, the draft of the agreement includes a proposal for the creation of a forum on energy technologies to formulate recommendations, as well as new representatives both in the US administration and in the EU executive to deal with transatlantic trade.

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