Reducing Regulatory Barriers to Transatlantic Trade

December 2, 2014


The World Bank has identified government regulation as "a major determinant of prosperity," observing that "a thriving private sector—with new firms entering the market, creating jobs and developing innovative products—contributes to a more prosperous society," "promotes growth and expands opportunities for poor people."

Regulatory systems that "promote competitive markets, secure property rights, and intervene to correct market failures rather than to increase state influence" are not only more conducive to greater economic growth and public welfare within countries, but they can support international trade and investment, which raises standards of living across jurisdictions.

Recognizing this, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) between the EU and the U.S. aims to be "an ambitious and comprehensive trade agreement that significantly expands trade and investment between the United States and the EU, increases economic growth, jobs, and international competitiveness, and addresses global issues of common concern." While recognizing that Europe and the U.S. have an "immensely successful economic relationship," officials on both sides of the Atlantic hope to "do more to strengthen the contribution of trade and investment to fostering jobs, growth, and competitiveness in both economies."

As our economies become more global, and the EU and U.S. work to reduce tariffs and explicit trade barriers, regulations are emerging as more important and significant barriers to trade. Not only can poorly designed or conflicting regulations inhibit transatlantic trade and investment, but differences in regulatory policy and procedural approaches may continue to challenge economic partnerships between the EU and U.S.* The success of T-TIP thus depends on strengthening EU-U.S. regulatory coherence, and reducing regulatory barriers to transatlantic trade and investment.

With support from the European Union, the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center has undertaken a project to conduct policy research and engage public debate to identify and analyze key regulatory challenges and opportunities to transatlantic trade. As part of that project, the Center hosted a conference on "Enhancing the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership: Reducing Regulatory Barriers" on November 19 and 20, 2014 in Washington, DC. The conference featured remarks by European Union Ambassador to the United States David O’Sullivan, chief TTIP negotiator Daniel Mullaney, Head of the Trade and Agriculture Section of the EU Delegation Damien Levie, and Senator Rob Portman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget and U.S. Trade Representative. In addition, senior EU and US policy officials, regulatory experts, and stakeholders exchanged their perspectives and expertise on panels discussing such topics as regulatory analysis, the role for legislators and courts, risk assessment and risk management, public engagement, and regulatory cooperation. 

To continue the conversation, many of the speakers have written short essays summarizing their remarks. Over the next few weeks, the GW Regulatory Studies Center will post these essays on the conference website.


*  Anne Meuwese, "EU–US horizontal regulatory cooperation: Mutual recognition of impact assessment?" In D. Vogel, & J. Swinnen (Eds.), Transatlantic Regulatory Cooperation: The Shifting Roles of the EU, the US and California. (pp. 249-264). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. 2011.