Wednesday, February 13 13:11:28
A free trade agreement between the EU and US took a step closer today as Barack Obama and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso agreed to launch talks for a comprehensive trade and investment deal between the blocs.
When negotiations are completed, this EU-US agreement would be the biggest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated - and it could add 0.5pc to the EU's annual economic output.
The progress was welcomed by Ireland's EU Presisdency.
The major progress over recent days in advancing an EU-US free trade agreement is very welcome, as part of building growth and creating jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said today in a speech to the Institute for International and European Affairs.
As part of its agenda of stability, jobs and growth, the Irish Presidency had identified making progress on an EU-US trade agreement as a top priority. As part of this drive Minister Bruton, who currently chairs the EU Trade Council, will convene a special informal meeting of EU Trade Ministers in Dublin in April to hold talks on the issue.
The Minister's speech comes following the expression of support last Friday from the European Council for such an agreement, the very positive comments by President Obama during his State of the Union speech last night and the publication today of the report on the issue by the joint EU-US High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth which could move this ambitious agenda forward.
Successful conclusion of such an agreement could lead to annual benefits of over E150billion to the EU and US economies, and could provide benefits of over $100million per year for Ireland. Making progress on this issue is a top priority of the Irish Presidency, and Minister Bruton will hold an informal meeting of EU Trade Ministers in Dublin in April as part of this effort.
Minister Bruton will chair or co-chair eight formal and informal meetings of the Trade, Competitiveness and Employment and Social Policy Councils during the six months of the Irish Presidency.