Professor Elaine Fahey, Institute for the Study of European Law, City Law School, City, University of London
The EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC)
A Transatlantic Trade and Technology Council (TTC) has been set up quickly by the European Union (EU) with the US at the outset of the US Biden administration. It is not a trade negotiation and does not adhere to any specific Article 218 TFEU procedure, although it has many signature ‘EU’ characteristics. The TTC has high-minded goals to ‘solve’ global challenges on trade and technology with its most significant third country cooperating partner. Yet it is notably not the only recent Council proposed by the EU- there is also a new EU-India Trade and Technology Council. These new Councils represent a new modus operandi for the EU to engage with ‘complex’ partners, comprising executive to executive engagement, meeting agency counterparts regularly in close groups in an era of EU trade policy deepening its stakeholder and civil society ambit overall. The TTC has a vast range of policy-making activities, traversing many areas of EU law. Their precise selection and future is difficult to understand in EU regional trade and data policy, seemingly pivoting, like US trade law, to executive-led soft law.
On Friday 25 June 2021, British tabloid The Sun published pictures of the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, kissing Gina Coladangelo in his office at the Department of Health. These pictures were, it seems, captured by a CCTV camera in the office and leaked by person(s) unknown to the newspaper. The pictures were soon joined on The Sun’s website by a video clip (seemingly from the same camera). The clip shows Hancock and Coladangelo in what might be described as a passionate embrace. The footage lasts just over one minute and remains online, including on The Sun’s Youtube channel.
The pictures and footage caused instant controversy due to the fact that both Hancock and Coladangelo are married to other people, and due to the fact that Hancock brought Coladangelo into the Department for Health during the pandemic, where after a period of unpaid work she took on a paid role (taxpayer funded) in the autumn of 2020. These facts raise questions of both a moral and political nature. It is also clear that the actions of Hancock and Coladangelo breached COVID guidelines that Hancock had himself played a key role in designing and promoting during the pandemic. This raised the politically toxic spectre of hypocrisy that led to his resignation on Saturday 26 June.