As first days of a Syriza-governed Greece pass by, observers gradually learn new and new points of potential friction between Greece and the rest of the EU. Greek sovereign debt and the attached home reform program was the first in line, followed closely by a different stance with regard to Russia. However, the debt debate seems to be going step by step in the direction of a compromise and the last round of anti-Russia sanctions won also the approval of Mr Tsipras´s foreign minister. TTIP, the flagship of EU external trade policy, on the other hand received the harshest words from Syriza officials with little space for eventual compromise. According to Georgios Katrougkalos, a former Syriza MEP and now government official, TTIP will never gain the approval of a Syriza-led government in Greece. Syriza and its junior coalition partner, the Independent Greeks, share their views of TTIP and do not plan to support it. According to the two parties, in its present form, the free trade pact is unacceptable – they cite the notorious ISDS clause, as well as the eventual threat to the European welfare state model.
Although it is the European Commission that negotiates the treaty on behalf of the Union, the deal will need to be ratified unanimously by the Council. Also, it is likely that the treaty will need to be ratified by every single Member State individually, which would give Greece a second possibility to block the process. The TTIP negotiations have not been progressing smoothly enough in the past months, but EU and US representatives declared that they would like to have a deal on the table by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the negotiators of the US and of the Commission met in Brussels last week for another round of talks. It was the first time under the new Commission and also the first since the EU suspended negotiations on the controversial ISDS. Negotiators focused on regulatory cooperation. Mutual recognition of regulatory standards, and eventually a single set of norms, would make life easier for many entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic – today there are at least two sets of standards with which they have to comply, plus the products have to undergo two different sets of certification tests. Speaking at a press conference after the talks on Friday, the chief negotiator for the EU, Ignacio Garcia Bercero indicated that the EC tabled a proposal for an oversight body, an intergovernmental oversight mechanism, which would control the implementation of the deal. The talks are about to intensify in the next months.
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