On 19 October 2018, the European Council announced that it has authorised the Commission to open negotiations on an agreement with the United States on imports of high quality beef from animals not treated with certain growth promoting hormones. The announcement said:
The Council also adopted a mandate for the negotiations, which will review the functioning of the existing quota for imports of hormone-free beef into the EU. Hormone-free beef imports are not part of the wider discussions on improving EU-US trade relations launched following the 25 July meeting between Presidents Juncker and Trump. Nevertheless, finding a mutually beneficial solution to our longstanding dispute over beef would be a major step forward in improving our trade cooperation.
The aim of the negotiations will be to settle definitively a long-standing WTO dispute. It is not meant to affect in any way the EU ban on hormones-treated beef as such. The ban remains. The EU and the United States agreed on an interim solution in 2009, later revised in 2014, which grants a tariff rate quota (TRQ) for hormone-free beef imports of 45 000 tons. In line with WTO rules, this TRQ is also available to exporters from other WTO member countries. A review of the existing arrangements was requested by the previous US Administration in 2016, and the two sides have since explored possible solutions.
The aim of the negotiations is to find a mutually satisfactory solution in line with WTO rules. The Commission is not authorised to negotiate an increase in the existing TRQ but can discuss a country-specific allocation of the overall quota. Negotiations with other supplying countries may be needed to ensure that any agreed country-specific allocation with the US respects their existing rights under the WTO/GATT Agreements.