[A2k] New York Times: Nomination of Cecilia Malmstrom as E.U. Trade Envoy Signals Interest in U.S. Talks
thiru at keionline.org
Mon Sep 15 04:11:22 PDT 2014
of Cecilia Malmstrom as E.U. Trade Envoy Signals Interest in U.S. Talks
By DAVID JOLLY
PARIS — The selection of Cecilia Malmstrom on Wednesday to be Europe’s new
trade chief suggests that Jean-Claude Juncker, the president-elect of the
European Commission, is eager to restart stalled talks with the United
States on the creation of a trade partnership.
Ms. Malmstrom, a member of the pro-free market Swedish Liberal Party, is
taking over the trade portfolio from Karel De Gucht, a Belgian, with orders
to move on negotiations with Washington to create what would be one the
world’s largest trade areas.
In a “mission letter” that was posted on the commission’s website, Mr.
Juncker called on Ms. Malmstrom to focus on working toward “a reasonable
and balanced” trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership with the
United States, one “which neither threatens Europe’s safety, health, social
and data protection standards, nor jeopardizes our cultural diversity.”
The aim, he wrote, “must be to conclude the negotiations on a reciprocal
and mutually beneficial basis.”
AmCham EU, an American business lobby in Brussels, welcomed her
appointment, saying in a statement: “As a strong supporter of free trade
and open markets, Cecilia Malmstrom brings a wealth of E.U. experience and
leadership to the position.”Having served in the prior commission as chief
of home affairs — a job in which she had responsibility for migration,
asylum and internal security, among other things — Ms. Malmstrom is no
stranger to a challenge. Born in Stockholm, she has a Ph.D. in political
science from the University of Gothenburg, where she taught European
politics. She speaks English, French, Spanish, German and Italian, in
addition to Swedish.
But Ms. Malmstrom does not have much of a track record on trade, so it is
hard to evaluate her selection, said Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of
Friends of the Earth Europe, an environmental nonprofit agency opposed to
the trade deal. But early signs suggest no change in policy, she said.
“For the moment, what we see in her reaction” — a reference to her Twitter
messages and a statement on Wednesday — “is a belief in trade as the
solution for everything,” Ms. Stoczkiewicz said.
The predecessor, Mr. De Gucht, had sometimes come across as “arrogant,” Ms.
Stoczkiewicz said. “So Malmstrom might have been brought in to present a
kinder face but still to push forward” the trade agreement.
Linas Linkevicius, the foreign minister of Lithuania, said on Wednesday
that, while he did not know Ms. Malmstrom’s views on trade, he would assume
that because Sweden is a strong supporter of the pact, she would be, too.
“It’s a question what she will do,” he said during an interview in Vilnius,
but added that when he had met her to discuss other issues, “she was very
rational, very smart.”
The problems she faced as home affairs commissioner might seem easy in
comparison with her new mission, in which convincing a skeptical European
public that a United States deal is in their interest will be a difficult
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as the United
States-European Union proposal is called, moves beyond the approach of
free-trade deals of a generation ago that were concerned mainly with
reducing tariffs. It aims for no less than eliminating barriers like the
two regions’ differing standards on chemical products, drugs, auto safety
and food — all areas in which constituencies on both sides of the Atlantic
have substantial vested interests — to create a vast zone in which goods
and services flow unimpeded. It also includes a highly contentious proposal
to allow corporations to sue governments for lost profits when they believe
that local regulations have impaired their business.
It is no secret that many citizens lack confidence in the European Union to
negotiate any such deal, and there has been wide criticism of a lack of
transparency in the process. Europeans worry that corporations will use an
agreement to water down labor and environmental standards, and to open the
doors to imports of American hormone-treated beef, genetically modified
foods and other such affronts to European sensibilities. Ms. Malmstrom will
need to convince the public and some of the less-enthusiastic member states
that she can negotiate a deal that takes their concerns into account.
Ms. Malmstrom said in a statement: “Trade is a vital part of Europe’s
economic recovery, and a cornerstone of our prosperity.”
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