Barack Obama visits Berlin this week, to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel. President Obama is also set to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate, just as President John F. Kennedy did to make his historic statement “Ich bin ein Berliner” exactly 50 years ago.
Not all discussions are expected to be bright and sunny though. Angela Merkel already announced she is determined to subject the US President to some tough questioning on PRISM, US National Security Agency’s (NSA) recently-revealed electronic surveillance scheme. On the leaders’ agenda for sure will also be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the free trade deal currently in the pipeline between the world’s two largest trading partners. Formal negotiations were launched on Monday, when EU and US leaders met at the margins of the G8 summit.
In recent months, the Library teams on Legal Affairs and External Policies, jointly carefully examined transatlantic relations and models; our analyses encompass data protection issues, organised crime and the state of play of the transatlantic free trade talks.
Data protection and organised crime
Using the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) as a model, several EU Member States agreed on the automatic exchange of bank information. We have written a Briefing on the latest developments towards an “EU FATCA” and related data protection concerns: A FATCA for the EU? Data protection aspects of automatic exchange of bank information.
Moreover, in the context of the activities of Parliament’s special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money-laundering, we produced a briefing to inform Members on the organisation of US law enforcement in the fight against organised crime. We also took a closer look at how witness protection programmes are being dealt with across the Atlantic.
Trade, trade, trade … and drones
Our statistical spotlight Analysis of EU-US trade visualizes the sheer unimaginable volume of transatlantic trade – totalling €800 billion in goods and services in 2012, and mutual investments in each others’ economies (FDI stocks) exceeding €2700 billion – in smart graphs and figures, which put these trade flows in perspective.
So what’s the aim of the TTIP, you may wonder, given that trade goes swimmingly (in most areas) and transatlantic tariff barriers are already now close to zero (to be precise, they are on average under 3%). Our one-pager The EU-US Trade and Investment Partnership provides you the basic outline on the scope of the envisaged agreement (in 6 languages!) With a view to potential stumbling blocks, we dedicated an entire briefing to the issues of consumer protection and food safety. And to complete the picture, we summed up the major EU-US trade disputes (ongoing and resolved) in a separate brief, as they shed a light on the challenges the TTIP negotiators may face. Curious to know more on the potential trade deal? All your reading desires will be satisfied by our comprehensive information dossier (we call it a “keysource”) on the EU-US future FTA.
Another issue of concern – at the EP, for legal experts and human rights organisations – are the use of unmanned drones in war and counter-terrorism operations. The EP initiated discussion, urging the active promotion of transparency, accountability and the rule of law in relation to the use of these weapons of modern warfare. For further reading we recommend our keysource Use of drones: an international debate.
To conclude: We dealt with some quite hot issues on the transatlantic agenda in Obama’s first year of his current term in office… Maybe they’ve actually pushed aside memories of his first term. If so, we can help! Just before Obama’s re-election we took stock of Transatlantic relations under Obama, 2008-2012.
For Members and EP staff only, we also hold subscriptions to academic full-text e-journals, with The journal of transatlantic studies being the most prominent. Our information specialists monitor what think tanks and research institutes say and share the most interesting papers on our Policy Area Page on Transatlantic relations. Freshly picked from there:
- EU-U.S. Economic Ties: Framework, Scope, and Magnitude (CRS report, 2013)
- Transatlantic Tensions on Data Privacy (IAI, 2013)
To stay informed on EU-US relations, MEP’s offices and EP staff can subscribe to e-mail alerts on the TTIP or more generally on transatlantic relations to get both our in-house analysis and hand-picked external info sources delivered direct to their inbox.