BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union's executive agency put forward a series of proposals Wednesday that gradually would remove trade barriers between the 15-nation EU and the United States.
Under the plan, the trading giants would eliminate all industrial tariffs by 2010, create a free trade area in services and ease barriers further in investment and government purchases of goods and services.
"The proposal is good for Europe, good for business, good for consumers and good for the unemployed, since the initiative will create jobs," the EU's trade chief Sir Leon Brittan said.
The package, called the New Transatlantic Marketplace, must be approved by the group's member nations. Brittan said he hopes to be given authority to begin negotiations before an EU-U.S. summit in May.
Europe, Brittan said, is enjoying a period of growth and productivity. "It's time for Europe to be aggressive in the best sense of the word. ... Not to do so would show doubt, uncertainty," he said.
He said farm disputes, the thorniest on the transatlantic agenda, would not be included in this framework of free trade talks.