50 Years of Conflict and Convergence
Chapter 6: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the path to convergence (2011 to 2014 and beyond)
Agricultural and food issues continue to impose themselves on US–EU trade relations. The degree of convergence discussed in the preceding chapters has so far not reached the stage where either side of the Atlantic feels comfortable with the farm and food policies of the other. Tensions resulting from diverging “philosophies” in traditional farm support policies and their different instrumentation have diminished considerably since the Uruguay Round, but conflicts over regulatory measures regarding food safety, food quality and consumer information have, if anything, intensified. Thus agricultural issues – and particularly those surrounding food regulations – inevitably play a prominent role in the TTIP talks that are now underway and may influence the pace and ultimate success of those talks. At the time of writing it is not clear how ambitious the outcome of the TTIP negotiations will be, and whether there will be a successful outcome at all. It is generally agreed that a concerted political push will be needed to overcome decades of mistrust and misunderstanding. The next phase of US–EU relations in the area of agricultural and food trade will be shaped by the extent to which such political commitment is forthcoming. It will also be interesting to see how governments respond to the public concerns that are pronounced so strongly, in particular in Europe, regarding sensitive elements of the TTIP talks such as investor–state dispute settlement and harmonization of food safety regulations.
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