WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS, June 18 The European
Union's threat to take access to financial services off the
table in a trade deal with the United States is an empty one
because it has already signed up to international agreements
allowing such access, an official close to the talks said on
The European Union has excluded financial services, such as
banking, from a market access offer in services under the
Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), amid a
dispute over financial regulation.
The European Commission has been pushing Washington to work
towards harmonizing rules on financial services but said the
U.S. refusal to do so meant it was no longer offering greater
access to its financial services market.
This could affect how easy it is for a foreign bank to open
a branch in another country, for example.
In a document prepared at the end of May setting out its
offer for services and investment, the European Commission said
its new offer did not contain any commitments on financial
"Given the firm U.S. opposition to include regulatory
cooperation on financial services in TTIP, it is considered
appropriate not to include any commitments on financial services
in the EU's market access offer at this stage," the text read.
An official close to the talks said U.S. banks already had
access to the European market under international agreements
dating back 20 years.
The EU had also made a services offer in a separate
multilateral services trade deal, to which the United States is
a party, which did include financial services, the official
The United States, for its part, had put up a TTIP proposal
giving access to almost all services sectors and the official
said he hoped that the EU position would not complicate
discussions about services, which should be less difficult to
negotiate than some other issues.
The EU document said that the situation might change in the
future if the U.S. showed a readiness to cooperate on
U.S. politicians have expressed concern that the TTIP could
weaken or even roll back reforms, such as the 2010 Dodd-Frank
Act, which is designed to prevent another financial crisis.
Sensitive to these concerns, U.S. officials have said they
wish to discuss financial regulation in parallel talks outside
those driving towards a comprehensive free trade deal. They also
say there are a number of international forums where further
reforms are already being discussed.
(Reporting by Krista Hughes and Douwe Miedema in Washington and
Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Eric Walsh)