Trade Background: Europe and the European Union

The European Union (EU) consists of 28 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and new members Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Mediterranean Island of Malta and Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

The EU market represents 508.3 million people, and has a total GDP of $18.51 trillion. The United States has 318.9 million people and a Gross Domestic Product of $17.42 trillion. World Bank

Total bilateral trade between the European Union and United States was $698.7 billion in 2015, with the United States exporting $272 billion worth of goods to EU member nations. California exports to the EU were $29.2 billion in 2015. California is the top exporting state to Europe, with computers, electronic products and chemical manufactures as our leading export sectors to the region. European Union countries purchase roughly 17.6 percent of all California exports. For California companies, the single market presents a stable market with huge opportunity.

Current

EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
European Commission, 2017

CETA in Your Town
European Commission, 2017

President Jean-Claude Juncker’s State of the Union Address 2017
European Commission, September 13, 2017

Photo Release: Czech Republic Signs California-Led Under 2 MOU Climate Agreement
Governor’s Office April 4, 2016

Germany and the Euro Zone Balance of Power: Transatlantic Trade to the Rescue? AICGS, June 24, 2013

A New Trade Relationship with Europe? The Ripon Forum, Summer 2012

Transatlantic Economy Remains Pivotal

The Transatlantic Economy 2012, a new report by Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), the European American Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in the EU, details how despite the recession, the US and Europe remain each other’s most important markets. No other commercial artery in the world is as integrated. The US and Europe are each other’s primary source and destination for foreign direct investment.The entire Transatlantic Economy report is available here.

United States and European Union Agree to Historic New Partnership on Organic TradeFeb 2012

October 2011, the European Commission published a policy on corporate social responsibility (CSR). By taking steps to better meet their social responsibility, enterprises can help themselves and help society as a whole. The European Commission’s strategy on CSR aims to create conditions favorable to sustainable growth and employment generation in the medium and long term.

In November, 2011, several business organizations sent a letter to EU Commissioner for and U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs welcoming the reinvigoration of the U.S.-EU Investment Dialogue and urging support for strong principles on the treatment of foreign investment by third countries. The letter states:”The October meeting of U.S. and EU investment policy officials, the first since 2008, clearly re-established that the European Union and the United States share a common agenda on investment issues, as outlined in our July 14 letter as well as the May 2008 Joint Statement. We look forward to further active and substantive efforts by you as TEC Co-chairs and your administrations in this area.” Background
Beginning with the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the European Economic Community began a process that led to the adoption of standards designed to implement freedom of labor, capital, goods and services. This continues as the cornerstone of the development of the ‘single European market’ instituted on January 1, 1993.The November 1, 1993, Maastricht Treaty took the European Community even further, creating European citizenship and a three-part framework:

  • a detailed plan for economic and monetary union;
  • authority for a common foreign and security policy; and
  • policies for justice and domestic affairs.

Membership in the single currency, known as the euro, includes Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Britain, Sweden and Denmark have chosen to retain their national currencies. On January 1, 1999 governments, businesses and banks started using the euro in their accounting. On January 1, 2002, national currencies were discontinued and euro bills are being used for day-to-day commerce. On March 1, 2002, domestic currencies within the euro zone lost their legal status.

The EU Presidency rotates between each member country, taking turns for six months at a time as chair of EU meetings and representing the European Union at international events.On October 29, 2004, 25 European government leaders signed the European Union’s first constitution. The measure was written to establish a process to select a continent wide president and foreign minister, as well as increase the European Parliament’s power and influence on issues like agriculture and foreign trade.In November 2004, European nations began the process of voting for the constitutional treaty. Twelve countries approved the constitution (Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain), but France and the Netherlands both rejected the treaty in national referendums. In response to these “no” votes, EU leaders have put the constitution on hold and are currently considering potential changes to the treaty. All 28 EU member states must approve the measure for it to go into effect.In December 2007, the Treaty of Lisbon was signed during the European Parliament. Because the “treaty establishing a constitution for Europe” was never ratified, the Treaty of Lisbon was necessary. This treaty’s objectives are to make the European Union more democratic by increasing accountability, openness, transparency and participation. The Treaty of Lisbon was ratified by all EU members, nearly a 2 year process concluding with the Czech Republic’s ratification on November 13, 2009.Negotiations to discuss Turkey’s membership in the European Union began in October 2005. The decision held several conditions, including the cessation of talks if Turkey does not continue to improve their record on human rights and democracy, as well as an agreement to curb a potential surge in labor migration out of Turkey upon joining. If the negotiations are successful, Turkey will be the first Muslim member of the European Union, and one of the largest. The accession process is due to end in 2014. Those who support Turkey’s membership status believe it can serve as a bridge between cultures, encouraging peace and stability in the region.

On May 17, 2002 in Madrid, President Ricardo Lagos President of Chile, Spanish Head of Government, José María Aznar, and the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, signed a historical agreement between Chile and the European Union. After three years of talks, a pact was struck which frees most of the $7.2 billion of trade between Chile and Europe, including contentious areas like fish and wine.

A proposed Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Agreement between nations of the European Union and countries of the South Mediterranean is due to be established. Together with the European Free Trade Association (made up of non-EU member states Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Zone will include 600-800 million consumers.In December 2006, Balkan leaders signed a free trade agreement (the Central Europe Free Trade Agreement, or CEFTA) including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia (including the UN administered area of Kosovo). Romania and Bulgaria left CEFTA when they became members of the European Union in January 2007. CEFTA consolidates 32 bilateral free trade agreements into one regional agreement. EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson commented that, “CEFTA will replace the spaghetti bowl of regional FTAs in South Eastern Europe with a single agreement that will boost trade and attract investment. The expanded CEFTA will offer real economic benefits to all sides. But it also sends an important political signal. Closer trade relations in South Eastern Europe are a foundation for stability and growing prosperity.”In November 2005, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez headed a U.S. delegation to the first informal EU-U.S. economic ministerial meeting in Brussels, where transatlantic economic integration and shared economic challenges were discussed. Business and government leaders from the United States and the European Union regularly participate in the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) to discuss priorities for eliminating trade and investment barriers across the Atlantic. The TABD includes senior representatives from companies from the European Union and United States who meet on a regular basis to discuss ways to ease the flow of bilateral trade. Representatives also gather for ‘early warning system’ meetings when potential trade disputes arise.

Trading Partner Portals

A Transatlantic Zero Agreement
Estimating the Gains from Transatlantic Free Trade in Goods

2010 study by the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE) demonstrating the significant economic and trade benefits of eliminating tariffs on transatlantic trade. The report was prepared by ECIPE Director Fredrik Erixon and his team, with a grant from the U.S. Chamber and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, using widely respected economic models and techniques to project the GDP, national income, and trade effects from eliminating U.S. and EU tariffs on goods imported from the other party. Although both the U.S. and the EU have generally low tariffs, the huge volume of trade between the world’s two largest economies means that cost reductions and productivity gains from removing tariffs are significant.

Additonal Information