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Europe discusses free-trade agreement with US

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Vital Moreira, chair of the international trade committee, is optimistic about the possible benefits. The Portuguese Social Democrat said: "Even a slight increase in trade will bring about a huge added value in terms of growth and jobs on either side of the Atlantic." However, Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl, a German member of the EPP group, said: "Everyone in the EU says, ´we don´t want the American way of life´, but we want the Americans to deal with us on the same level."

Any agreement will have to be approved by the Parliament before it can enter into force. The European Commission plans to submit a negotiating mandate to the Council in March. A unanimous Council decision is needed to launch the talks and is expected in mid-June. Negotiations are likely to take at least two years and the deal will have to be approved by the European Parliament.

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