On 4 December a roundtable discussion “Facing facts: public procurement in TTIP” took place, organised by the ALDE Group of the Committee of the Regions together with the European Liberal Forum (ELF). Stakeholders in local and regional authorities across the European Union have been following TTIP negotiations in the media. The intense public discourse on trade negotiations with the US is also mirrored in the debates taking place in municipal and regional councils these days. In this respect, public services and public procurement are of great relevance. At this roundtable we discussed the scope of what is negotiated and, moreover, what opportunities and challenges there are for EU citizens, smaller or medium sized suppliers and for the EU as such.
Felicita Medved, President on the ELF and Bas Verkerk, President of the ALDE group in their welcome speeches emphasised the importance of informing the public and having an interactive discussion on TTIP. The moderator, Susanne Hartig, Executive director of the ELF also underpinned the necessity to discuss the challenges and opportunities TTIP could bring, therefore welcomed the current discussion.
Michiel Scheffer (NL/D66), Deputy Governor for Gelderland started the panel discussion explaining why the US market is very hard to access, especially for SMEs. He nevertheless pointed out that there are major gains to be made for SMEs once the agreement is concluded.
Some other points that were made revolved around the current state of public procurement markets and challenges of opening them; and the price Europe will have to pay for opening the markets. Diego Zuluaga, the deputy director of EPICENTER concluded the panel discussion by underlining that many things we envisage now about TTIP will be executed only in a long-run and the benefits will show up gradually by taking in a lot of local knowledge.
“Emotions are running high” – reminded Felicita Medved in the conclusion of the answers and questions session, nevertheless it will be the political situation that in the end will close the deal.
Other speakers included Anders Jessen, the head of Public Procurement Unit, DG Trade and Gerhard Huemer, director of Economic and Fiscal policy and Study Unit of UEAPME.