The economic-policy agenda in 2014 was dominated by one issue: the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the United States. What is special about TTIP is that it is not primarily concerned with the removal of tariff trade barriers (such as customs duties), but rather the reduction of non-tariff trade barriers by means of instruments of regulatory cooperation. The aim of the study, on behalf of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, was to analyze and evaluate the state of the negotiations and the public debate on the agreement with regard to its consumer policy implications. To this end, an evaluatory framework was developed that enables the measuring of the effects of the relevant instruments for removing non-tariff trade barriers on the individual dimensions of consumer welfare in the following submarkets, which are of particular importance to consumers: (I) food and nutrition, (II) drugs and medical products, (III) data flows and data protection and (IV) financial services. The key results of the research can be summarized in terms of six theses:
- Thesis 1: Transatlantic relations are characterized in a number of instances by fundamentally different regulatory philosophies, which preclude overall harmonization or mutual recognition.
- Thesis 2: In some areas, however, there are also substantial similarities with regard to regulatory approaches that should not be overlooked and in which harmonization or mutual recognition of standards would make sense.
- Thesis 3: There is enormous consumer-policy potential in intensified exchange of information between the EU and the United States. This should be tapped within the framework of regulatory cooperation.
- Thesis 4: The assumption that the level of consumer protection or regulatory approaches in the EU are generally higher or better is not warranted.
- Thesis 5: In order to tap the potential of regulatory cooperation minimum requirements have to be met.
- Thesis 6: The TTIP negotiations have the potential to promote the interests of consumers. However, in order to realize this potential a change of mentality is needed in the conduct of the negotiations.
The publication can be found here.