Where do we stand in the different areas of our negotiations on a trade agreement with the United States? That’s a question that I get quite often, both here in Brussels and when I am travelling to other EU countries to partake in citizens' dialogues and the like.
There's no simple answer to that question. Some three years and 13 rounds into the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, in certain areas we are quite far along, in others less so. Today, in an attempt to clarify where we stand in all the different areas, we are presenting a European Commission report outlining the state of play.
The report summarises our negotiations, conducted by the European Commission as a team, following the political guidelines of President Juncker and with the involvement of several Commission colleagues, such as Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner Phil Hogan and others. It aims to be a broad, yet straightforward and concise document, a result of our continued promise to keep these negotiations the most transparent trade talks ever conducted by the EU.
We are making good progress in many TTIP chapters. However, as today's report shows, we must also make significant strides in some areas if we are to have the main elements of a deal finished this year.
Earlier this week I was in Hannover, Germany, for the Hannover Messe, a massive industrial technology trade fair. Among other meetings, I met US Trade Representative Michael Froman, spoke to the representatives of the German mechanical engineering industry (VDMA), and met business stakeholders from both sides of the Atlantic.
Hannover was a good opportunity to take political stock of where we are in the negotiations, and where to put our focus in the coming months. A negotiating round is also ongoing in New York since Monday and until Friday - a further step in the very intense period of talks which started at the beginning of this year. This week's round focuses on the technical work of consolidating texts of as many chapters of the deal as possible. This, in turn, will make it easier to try to find compromises on outstanding issues at the political level. As during all negotiating rounds, there is also a stakeholder forum for EU and US negotiators to exchange views with interested stakeholders, such as consumers associations, trade unions, environmental groups and business.
Our goal for the TTIP negotiations is clear: to make as quick progress as possible towards our goal of concluding the negotiations in 2016. Needless to say, I would like for us to conclude this year, and I do think that it can be done. However, much work remains, and as I've underlined before - substance is more important than speed. In the end, TTIP needs to be a solid and balanced agreement which creates business opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic, offering more choice for our consumers and strengthening our hand on the global stage.