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Irish EU Presidency welcomes major progress on EU-US trade deal – Minister Bruton

The major progress over recent days in advancing an EU-US free trade agreement is very welcome, as part of building growth and creating jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said today Wednesday in a speech to the Institute for International and European Affairs.

Potential benefits of over €150billion per annum to EU and US economies from successful conclusion of trade agreement

Minister outlines Presidency priorities during speech to IIEA, including measures on trade, single market, SMEs and research and development

13th February 2013

The major progress over recent days in advancing an EU-US free trade agreement is very welcome, as part of building growth and creating jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said today [Wednesday] in a speech to the Institute for International and European Affairs.

As part of its agenda of stability, jobs and growth, the Irish Presidency had identified making progress on an EU-US trade agreement as a top priority. As part of this drive Minister Bruton, who currently chairs the EU Trade Council, will convene a special informal meeting of EU Trade Ministers in Dublin in April to hold talks on the issue.

The Minister’s speech comes following the expression of support last Friday from the European Council for such an agreement, the very positive comments by President Obama during his State of the Union speech last night and the publication today of the report on the issue by the joint EU-US High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth which could move this ambitious agenda forward.

Successful conclusion of such an agreement could lead to annual benefits of over €150billion to the EU and US economies, and could provide benefits of over $100million per year for Ireland. Making progress on this issue is a top priority of the Irish Presidency, and Minister Bruton will hold an informal meeting of EU Trade Ministers in Dublin in April as part of this effort.

Minister Bruton will chair or co-chair eight formal and informal meetings of the Trade, Competitiveness and Employment and Social Policy Councils during the six months of the Irish Presidency. Today he outlined crucial issues he aims to progress during that time, including:

  • A series of trade agreements between the EU and international trading partners – including Canada, India and Japan – which together have the potential to create 2 million jobs in Europe and add 2% to EU GDP. There are currently 26 million people unemployed in the EU
  • Measures to further unlock the potential of the Single Market and support SMEs. Abolishing restrictions in the services sector alone could boost EU GDP by 2.6%
  • Led by Minister Sherlock, to work with the European Parliament to finalise the multibillion euro R&D programme Horizon 2020. Agreement has already been reached on increasing SME participation from 15% to 20%
  • A Programme to provide dedicated financial support for SMEs. SMEs account for more than 98% of enterprises in the EU and employ more than 87 million people
  • Measures to deepen the digital single market, which could add 4% to EU GDP
  • Implementation of a package of measures to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to register and enforce patents across the EU, and save businesses a total of more than €150million per year.

 

Minister Bruton said:

“This Government’s priorities for the Irish Presidency are stability, jobs and growth. I will be using my Chairmanship of the EU’s Trade Council to make progress on a new EU-US Trade Agreement. I also hope to be able to sign off on a new trade deal with Canada.”

“The agreement by the US to proceed, announced last night by President Obama, and the publication today of the High Level Report on a new EU-US trade agreement are significant developments. The European Council last Friday underscored the importance of a new trade deal with the US when Heads of State from all Member States supported a comprehensive trade agreement with the US. However, I do not underestimate the difficulties in either getting this underway or completed but if we are to anchor the transatlantic economic and political relationship we have to rise to the challenge.”

“As Chair of the EU Trade Council, I will be hosting an Informal meeting of EU Trade Ministers in Dublin over the 17th and 18th April to help move along this agenda, with a view to securing the mandate for opening formal negotiations.”

“During the Irish Presidency I also aim to secure progress on a package of support measures for SMEs. This includes establishing a dedicated financial support package for European SMEs. This package will help develop the EU’s venture capital market for SMEs and further develop SME loan facilities. I will also be prioritising the drive to reduce the regulatory burden on SMEs, as well as prioritising the passing of the measures that will make it easier for SMEs to compete in the public procurement market within the EU and for SMEs to have a fair share of the multi-billion research programme Horizon 2020.”

“The Irish Presidency work programme will also focus on the implementation of a number of outstanding measures in the Single Market Act I and the progression of the Single Market Act II. Among the important outstanding measures here are the Directives relating to Professional Qualifications, ensuring a simpler framework for recognition of professional qualifications across the EU, and the Posting of Workers.”

“Combined these measures will have huge economic potential at the European level but also for the domestic Irish economy. Making the EU’s internal market operate more efficiently and increasing access for European goods to major foreign markets will provide a crucial stimulus for economic growth and job creation.”

ENDS


For more information:

DJEI Press Office, ph: (01) 631 2200 or email press.office@djei.ie

NOTES FOR EDITORS

The transatlantic trade relationship is the backbone of the world economy. Together, the European Union and the Unites States account for about half of the world GDP (47%) and one third of global trade flows. Each day goods and services of almost € 2 billion are traded bilaterally,

A comprehensive and ambitious agreement between the EU and the US could bring overall annual gains of 0.5% increase in GDP for the EU and a 0.4% increase in GDP for the US, equivalent to €86 billion of added annual income to the EU economy and €65 billion of added annual income for the US economy.

30 million jobs or 10% of the European workforce depends on exports. A series of new international trade agreements could to increase European GDP by 2% and create 2 million new jobs across the EU. EU unemployment currently stands at 26 million.

SMEs remain the backbone of the European economy, accounting for more than 98% of all enterprises with some 20.7 million firms and more than 87 million employees. It is estimated that SMEs account for 67% of total employment and 58% of gross value added (GVA). Micro firms, with fewer than ten employees, make up the lion’s share (92.2%) of SMEs.

In its December 2012 Conclusions the European Council called upon the Council and Parliament to conclude the remaining Single Market Act I files as a matter of urgency, in particular those on Professional Qualifications, Public Procurement, Posting of Workers and E-signatures. It also called on the Commission to present all key Single Market Act II proposals by spring 2013, and for the Council and Parliament to assign them the highest possible priority.

The European Commission states that abolishing restrictions in the services sector – which accounts for more than 45% of EU GDP – could boost GDP by 2.6%.

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