The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was rescued on Tuesday when the U.S. Agriculture Secretary and EU Agriculture Commissioner were able to express in definitive terms that both sides of the Atlantic like agricultural trade.
Wait. That statement is a little too assertive and aggressive, don't you think? I think the Europeans need to be a little more nuanced. Yes, they like agricultural trade, but they don't want to unnecessarily cause people to assume that because they like trade that EU officials may make some sort of move that would increase trade.
Let's say both sides of the Atlantic think trade is important. Should we say, "agricultural trade?" No, that would be too bold. We don't to create the perception that there could be more imported food products because there is great sensitivity to the notion that anyone in Europe would afford American food, let alone buy any.
How about we review what the agriculture commissioner and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had to say about the importance of agricultural trade when they held a press conference?
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EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos said both sides of the Atlantic need to work on "a better understanding of our realities."
Translation: We haven't quite reached a point where I and my 98 other EU commission counterparts fully feel we have been completely condescending toward the concept of possibly importing more American food. We're getting there, though.
No, that's not quite what we meant to say. Perhaps we need to couch it differently.
"The European Commission, with the backing of the European Council, fully supports expanded agricultural trade with the United States through TTIP as long as we are allowed to continue banning scientifically safe grain products, ban beef in trade cases we have already lost or black any product that also has a European counterpart in which we may be able to point to a sanitary or phytosanitary exclusion. Further, we are open to all American agricultural products, excluding any product that may be similar in nature, taste, smell or color to a superior European product. Beyond that, we feel it is important that we project ourselves as supporting more open access as long as there is a provision in TTIP that fully justifies our ability to avoid such market expansion."
Oh, that is good.
Furthermore, we want Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to return from Europe with a sense of accomplishment. So we offer this memorandum of understanding on market access:
Following European parliamentary procedures handed down from the Gallo-Roman era, the European Commission does hereby promise that the Agriculture, Environment, Interior, Fisheries, Health and Consumers, Home Affairs, Trade and Externalities will create a 97-round plenary discussion to be held every other Tuesday on months that end in 'y.' Once the plenary completes its work with a vote of consensus, a white paper will be drafted and submitted to the commission of Regional Policy, which will hereby forward the document to the Commissions of Justice and Joint Research Centre. Once edited and revised, the potential document in the form of a possible memorandum, which doesn't assure complete trade access, will be sent back to the plenary for a second round of review. After that is finished, then topics of discussion such as geographic indicators will be added to the agenda to be considered at a later time. However, any topic added to the agenda must be first requested by two-thirds of the member states unless France objects and demands veto authority. Otherwise, the entire process must be halted and a new plenary round is established in months ending in 'e.'
Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Chris Clayton can be reached at email@example.com
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