On April 29-30, Georgia Tech’s Center for European and Transatlantic Studies hosted a workshop on “21st Century Trade Politics: TTIP as a Test Case?” The workshop brought together scholars from the U.S., Europe and Canada to analyze the politics associated with negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which former World Trade Organization Director General Pascal Lamy has characterized as the world’s first true 21st century trade agreement. The papers highlighted the unusual degree of cooperation among groups on both sides of the Atlantic; how opponents and proponents have sought to frame the negotiations in order to mobilize support; and how the negotiations have engaged institutions – the European Parliament, U.S. states and regulators – in trade policy in new ways. The workshop explicitly compared the politics of TTIP to those associated with the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada, the Transpacific Partnership, and the EU-Japan free trade agreement. The participants concluded that the politics of TTIP are distinctive in terms of the extent of mobilization, particularly in Europe, and in the degree to which diverse governmental actors have been drawn into the negotiations. They observed, however, that while these features are uniquely intense in the context of TTIP, they are not confined to it. In addition, the politics of TTIP have spilled over into those of other trade negotiations and there is reason to think that the mobilization of civic interests in Europe and the institutionalization of the European Parliament’s engagement with trade policy will persist beyond TTIP. The participants were joined by British Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford who discussed his experiences of promoting TTIP in the southeastern U.S.
The timing of the workshop was particularly appropriate as President Obama was in Europe at the beginning of the week making the case for the agreement and as the thirteenth round of negotiations wrapped up just as the workshop began. In addition, 2016 is a critical year for the negotiations, as the electoral calendars in the U.S. and key EU member states, notably France and Germany, will impede the negotiations if they run into 2017.
The workshop was sponsored by the European Commission through the Jean Monnet Center of Excellence and Alasdair Young’s Ivan Allen College Distinguished Researcher Award.