European Union countries authorized the start of talks with the U.S. on a free-trade agreement after bowing to French demands to exclude the film industry, Irish and Dutch officials said.
EU governments gave the European Commission, the bloc’s regulatory arm, a mandate for negotiations with the U.S. Trade Representative to expand the world’s biggest economic relationship. The goal is to remove tariffs, ease regulatory barriers and expand access in investment, services and public procurement.
Trade ministers from the 27-nation EU struck the accord today in Luxembourg after a 13-hour meeting that was chaired by Ireland, current holder of the bloc’s rotating presidency.
With the EU in a recession, the U.S. in a slow recovery and the World Trade Organization in deadlock over efforts to open markets, European and American policymakers are seeking commercial deals with individual countries or groups of nations to spur growth. Trade will feature at a June 17-18 meeting of Group of Eight leaders in the U.K.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, said she would throw her “full political weight behind” a free-trade pact between the EU and the U.S.
“We need big projects together that unite us,” Merkel said in an interview today in Berlin. “We ought to use this window of opportunity.”
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