06 Feb 2015

Public Procurement in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Negotiations

Steven Woolcock / Jean Heilman Grier

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For more than 20 years, the United States and the European Union have engaged in often-contentious negotiations over access to government procurement. The EU is dissatisfied with the level of procurement that the US has opened under the WTO Government Procurement Agreement and, as a consequence, it does not give the US its most comprehensive coverage. The US has been constrained in responding to the EU’s requests for greater access, especially to state procurement, by both its federal structure of government and by domestic purchasing requirements. At the current time, neither party has proposed a way to break the impasse.

This paper reviews the current state of affairs between the US and the EU on government procurement, examining the procurement that they open to one another and the procurement that they withhold. It then proposes a strategy for the two sides to use the TTIP negotiations to move forward. This strategy includes both steps to expand their current commitments in the TTIP, as well as to develop a longer-term approach by making the TTIP a ‘living agreement’. This strategy suggests that the EU and the US could find a way to expand their access to government procurement contracts and at least partially defuse the issue.

Steve Woolcock is Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science. Jean Heilman Grier is Principal Trade Consultant at Djaghe, LLC. This paper is the second paper in the “TTIP in the Balance” project, jointly organised by CEPS and the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) in Washington, D.C.