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EU Officials Want 'Concrete' Outcomes as Uncertainty Looms Over TTC

The EU and the U.S. should try to reach a more “concrete” set of outcomes before the next Trade and Technology Council meeting in April and may discuss making the body permanent, said Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s top trade official. He said the two sides are “fleshing out new ideas” on supply chain, export controls and investment screening issues, and they want to make progress before the current European Commission term ends in October and before the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

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Dombrovskis -- speaking during a meeting this week held by the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade -- noted that the TTC’s next meeting in Belgium in April will be the last under the current political cycle. He said the two sides should “focus on delivering good and concrete outcomes” and that they want to “make real progress” over a range of topics, including economic security issues, such as export controls.

Dombrovskis stopped short of calling on the EU and the U.S. to make the body permanent, but he and Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager both said they want the council to continue. “The future of the TTC depends on the political will on both sides. I think it is as simple as that,” Vestager said during the hearing. “With the present administration, I have no doubt in their interest in continuing.”

Several members of Parliament said they are concerned the TTC won’t continue if there is a different U.S. administration next year. Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero, a member from Spain, who pointed specifically to a possible Donald Trump victory and asked: “Do we have the tools we may need to cope with the trade situation which may apply under Trump?”

Dombrovskis said the U.S. and the EU have “laid a solid foundation over the last four years” and the TTC has “ultimately proven its worth across the board as a key forum for our bilateral agenda to discuss common challenges or work through differences on issues.” But he also said: “For the continuity of the TTC, what will be the key is going to be political will on both sides of the Atlantic to move forward.”

While the “future of the TTC” is “exactly the topic we'll need to discuss” during the next meeting, Dombrovskis also said the two sides will also talk about export controls and need to better coordinate export and sanctions enforcement against Russia. “What is more, we continue to look at how we could further simplify administrative burdens linked to export controls,” Dombrovskis said.

The U.S. and the EU also have “facilitated good cooperation” on investment screening issues and have shared best practices and information “on evolving threats related to certain foreign investments and investors,” Dombrovskis said. “We're looking at ways to share some of these good practices with screening authorities of the member states, like-minded partners and stakeholders.”

Vestager said the two sides also have made progress on semiconductor supply chain issues, including how they can combat China’s export controls on gallium and germanium, two key raw materials used in chip production (see 2307050018 and 2310030035). “I find it highly useful that both sides are monitoring the situation so that we can take action if need be,” she said.

Dombrovskis also said the EU has tried to speak with the U.S. about introducing a carbon border adjustment mechanism similar to the EU rules that take effect in 2026 (see 2310020037). “Certainly, I can expect that we will need to continue to engage on this, but OK, we must see that not everyone is following this approach on the price of carbon,” he said. “And we need to see how we can reconcile our different approaches.”