Getting to Yes on Transatlantic Trade

Consistent U.S.-EU Rules Could Remake Global Commerce

Barack Obama watches soccer with European leaders, May 2012. Pete Souza / White House

Revelations that the United States bugged EU embassies and monitored the emails and phone calls of ordinary Europeans almost ended this week’s U.S.-EU trade negotiations before they began. But prudence prevailed and EU officials withdrew their threats to postpone the talks. With U.S. economic growth still sluggish and eurozone unemployment reaching all-time highs, a transatlantic pact that could liberalize one-third of global trade and generate millions of new jobs is an opportunity neither side can afford to miss.

Still, hammering out the agreement, known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), won’t be easy. Beyond the traditional barriers to U.S.-EU free trade -- tariffs and quotas -- negotiators will need to address the real obstacles to transatlantic commerce: divergent or duplicative regulatory policies.

Although seemingly obscure, the fights that rage between EU and U.S. bureaucrats over such matters as the rules

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