The European Union wants to include financial services in negotiations on the world's largest free-trade accord with the United States despite US opposition, a top EU official said Thursday.
EU Financial Markets Commissioner Michel Barnier said that on a visit earlier this week to Washington, he had called for the inclusion of "all financial services, not only access to financial markets but also regulatory aspects" in the talks.
Barnier met US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew who was quoted by Le Figaro daily on Tuesday as saying that the issue should be left out of the negotiations which officially began earlier this month.
However, Barnier insisted the issue was still alive. "The decision has not been taken yet."
He conceded that after meetings with senior US officials, it was clear that Washington preferred to exclude the issue, as it has made clear several times.
"We don"t want a trade agreement getting in the way of implementation of financial reforms," US Under Secretary of the Treasury Lael Brainard said recently.
Brainard said a G20 summit in 2009 had set an agenda for reforms to address the causes of the global financial crash and it was important that they be implemented.
"Our focus has to be on making sure that all of our partners actually implement and not start a new set of discussions about a new set of rules with a new set of deadlines," Brainard said.
Barnier said Washington's concerns were unfounded.
The United States "worries that we want to reduce the level of regulation but that is not what I am about, on the contrary," the Commissioner said.
The targeted US-EU agreement is aimed at removing bureaucratic, regulatory and protectionist barriers to create what would be the world's largest free-trade area.