1st EU-US Trade & Tech Council meeting in limbo

The first meeting of the Trade and Technology Council (TTC), set up by the US and the European Union (EU) during their summit in June to coordinate approaches to key global trade, economic and technology issues, remains suspended despite signs of reconciliation in transatlantic relations, according to a spokesperson of the bloc.

The partially repaired bilateral ties following the leadership change in the US have been thrown into question again after Washington announced a security partnership with Australia and the UK, dubbed AUKUS, which led to the termination of an Australian contract to buy French submarines worth $90 billion, reports Xinhua news agency.

While France has strongly reacted, recalling its ambassadors from the US and Australia, top EU officials have demanded explanations on the matter.

Signs of reconciliation started to emerge on Wednesday, as French President Emmanuel Macron and his US counterpart Joe Biden spoke on the phone.

“It shows that the communication channels are restored,” said Eric Mamer, chief spokesperson of the European Commission, on Thursday.

However, the date of the TTC’s inaugural meeting is yet to be confirmed.

“The Commission will now discuss the way forward with member states and the US,” Mamer said.

The TTC was scheduled to be formally launched on September 29 in Pittsburgh.

However, in the words of European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, the AUKUS and submarine contract announcements have “eroded” the EU’s trust in the members.

Meanwhile, the EU and the US launched a joint campaign on Wednesday to further the global Covid-19 vaccination effort.

“We’ve just launched an EU-US Global Vaccination Partnership that will step up vaccine sharing, boost vaccine production, raise resources,” Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday.

She said the common goal was to achieve a 70 per cent global vaccination rate.