The EU and US will hold the first meeting of their Trade & Technology Council this week. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) calls on this Council to ensure that its discussions deliver to consumers, are transparent and clearly explained to the public.
The Trade & Technology Council constitutes the first major EU-US cooperation platform in recent years. It takes the form of a series of dialogues on regulatory topics, structured around 10 working groups. It is part of a broader cooperation agenda that will also focus on health and climate issues.
Many issues with high potential impact on consumers could be discussed in this Council, such as artificial intelligence, connected products, online platforms, digital rights and due diligence. Consumer organisations support the voluntary exchange of best practices and information between regulators, as long as this does not weaken the EU’s ambition to better protect consumers.
In recent years, the EU has made efforts to improve the transparency of its cooperation with third countries, by publishing meeting reports and hosting debriefing sessions for civil society about its ongoing trade negotiations. A first public event was organised by the EU in mid-September to update civil society on the Trade & Technology Council. This is a positive process that should continue.
Monique Goyens, BEUC Director General, commented:
“Consumer organisations recommend that the EU and US exchange best practices on addressing harmful business models based on data exploitation, online scams, and the sale of dangerous goods online. This could lead, for instance, to joint activities to remove unsafe products from the transatlantic market, which directly benefits consumers.
“But these discussions should in no way give the US influence over how the EU regulates important consumer topics, which is why transparency is indispensable. We urge both the EU and US to focus on practical communication to the public, such as setting up a website with meeting reports and hosting regular briefings that allow civil society to scrutinise what is being discussed.”
A transatlantic network
BEUC will actively monitor the EU-US talks, alongside its partner organisations in the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD). In June, the TACD network already called for a EU-US cooperation agenda that benefits the public interest.
- BEUC Director General Monique Goyens will detail the consumer movement’s view on this new EU-US dialogue at a ‘virtual roundtable’ for stakeholders this Wednesday (29/09)
- BEUC view: EU consumers in a globalised market