Business leaders today met David Cameron and six other European leaders face to face to spell out the benefits of striking a controversial EU-US trade agreement.
The Confederation of British Industry hosted prime ministers from the UK, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Poland and Spain to emphasise what is at stake with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
The roundtable meeting heard that TTIP could be worth up to 120bn Euros and has the potential to be the biggest trade deal ever signed. The Law Society has argued that TTIP represents a real opportunity to deliver an improved trade in legal services by removing barriers to the free movement of lawyers between the EU and US.
Speaking after the event, John Cridland, CBI director-general, said European leaders ‘cannot ignore’ the contribution to jobs and growth that TTIP could bring.
‘Our message to the seven European leaders who attended our roundtable and to political leaders across the EU is that Europe’s business community is united in its belief that this deal is crucial to the future growth and prosperity of citizens across the EU,’ he said.
‘It could create thousands of new opportunities for our young people at a time when youth employment across the continent remains startlingly high.’
Cridland said TTIP would create an integrated market of different populations and bring more choice for consumers at cheaper prices.
The CBI has published a new report on transatlantic trade, with five reasons why the deal is so important. They include opportunities for small and medium-sized companies, more choice and lower prices for consumers, less red tape and bureaucracy, new jobs and a bigger footprint for UK companies.
Talks began in June 2013 to remove regulatory barriers and tariffs for transatlantic trade and the deadline has been identified previously as next year.
Critics say that deadline may not be met however, and opponents have argued the TTIP is anti-democratic and could weaken the regulation of financial markets.
Negotiations have reached a problematic stage, after France last month said it would not support the inclusion of the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) in a potential TTIP agreement. The ISDS could give companies the opportunity to take legal action against a state whose legislation has a negative impact on their economic activity.