Today the European People’s Party (EPP) held its first gathering of EPP Ministers responsible for trade, just ahead of the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on Trade. Going forward, this meeting will be co-chaired by Richard Bruton, Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and by Daniel Caspary, German MEP and EPP Group Spokesman on International Trade in the European Parliament. The Ministers focused today on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is currently being negotiated by the European Union and the United States.

EPP President Joseph Daul emphasised the importance of this preparatory work: “In order to coordinate prior to the meetings of the Council of the EU, the EPP has a long tradition of gathering Ministers from our political family. The TTIP negotiations with the United States are one of the most important items on Europe’s trade agenda. The launch of this EPP Ministerial Meeting signals the EPP’s commitment to a balanced TTIP agreement that benefits European citizens, workers and businesses, reaffirms standards and food security for European consumers, as well as promotes Europe’s role in the world.”

Minister Bruton said: “TTIP offers Europe great opportunities for jobs and growth at a time that both are badly needed. The most important thing always to remember about TTIP is that it would create extra jobs and add to the EU’s GDP – resulting in real and very tangible gains for people right across the continent and promoting Europe’s economic recovery. Many people have concerns about some aspects of the partnership and we must address these – but in doing so we must not lose sight of the very major prize that is on offer here.”

Daniel Caspary added: “For the EPP family, transatlantic relations are a cornerstone of our external policy and must be strengthened. A balanced TTIP agreement would give us the chance to bear the fruits of this unique relationship with the United States. The TTIP is the strategic external arm of our jobs and growth policy, investment opportunities and competitiveness, high common standards and regulations, legal certainty and the cutting of red tape and administrative burden. It will galvanise innovation, research and knowledge, and strengthen our position in the world in these times of deep and rapid change.”

The EPP Trade Ministerial Meeting is the latest in a tradition of successful EPP Ministerial Meetings which also include EcoFin, Energy, Foreign Affairs, General Affairs, Employment, Agriculture, Labour and Social Affairs, Defence, Justice and Home Affairs, and Environment. These informal and confidential meetings, which are frequently organised and coordinated by the EPP from its Brussels headquarters, underpin the horizontal activity of the party with all the main EU institutions including the EU Council.