Parliamentarians talk giant US-EU trade deal

Parliamentarians from 28 European Union members states and other countries including Serbia converged in Riga Monday for two days of talks on various issues, most notably the progress of a controversial and massive potential free trade deal between the EU and United States.

Speaking to journalists during a break in proceedings, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said member states needed to step up their efforts to communicate the benefits of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to their citizens. 

“I want to underline that the Commission is negotiating this – and I take full responsibility – but we're doing this on behalf of member states,” Malmstrom said.

“It's really not my task to convince citizens of 28 member countries, it is the task of member states and governments and others... some of them should engage much more to convince why they think this is good for their country and for Europe so I would ask for more leadership.”

However, she also acknowledged that many people have serious concerns about the precise nature of the deal and whether, for example, it could lead to a lowering of the EU's stringent food safety standards.

“Many people are concerned, many people have worries, many people also support it. Actually many many opinion polls show that overall in the majority of countries of the European Union citizens are in favour,” Malmstrom said.

“No way will this lead to lower standards... When it comes to GMOs or hormones in beef we're not even discussing it, it's not even on the table, but we're confident this agreement will lead to increased jobs, investment and trade.”

Negotiations with the US will resume in July, Malmstroem said.

Also present was Latvian parliamentarian Lolita Cigane who took time to tell LSM about the progress of the parliamentary discussions and her thoughts on Latvia's EU Presidency as it enters its final month.

Lolita Cigane on TTIP

    The parliamentary discussions continue Tuesday and can be watched live here.

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