For nearly two years, U.S. and European negotiators have been essentially at loggerheads over a potentially unprecedented pact to create the world’s largest free trade zone.
In Germany, the most vocal opposition has formed around fears that a new transatlantic trade agreement, or TTIP, could undermine health, privacy and other local legal standards, which are perceived to be stronger than those in the United States.
But perhaps nowhere is the divide between Europe and the United States so great as the one that exists around the digital business models of a Silicon Valley global leader – Google, which is the subject of a five-year antitrust investigation by the European Commission.
The case remains open. The European Union’s previous competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia made three proposals to resolve the issue, but each time was forced to pull back in the face of opposition. New European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has signaled his interest in resolving the dispute, which he views as a key issue in developing an E.U. digital single market.
“Despite cooperation between U.S. and E.U. regulations, there has been some tension over Google in the past and new action wouldn’t be useful for the TTIP negotiations,” said Gabriel Siles-Brügge, a lecturer in politics at the University of Manchester.