"Commercial ties between the United States and the 27-member European Union [EU] are substantial, growing, and mutually beneficial. However, differences in regulatory approaches limit an even more integrated marketplace from developing. To deal with this situation, a variety of government-to-government efforts have been created to dismantle existing regulatory barriers and to prevent new ones from emerging. These efforts fall under the rubric of transatlantic regulatory cooperation (TRC) and are at the heart of today's U.S.-EU economic relationship. This report is intended to serve as an introduction and primer on a complicated, broad, and often highly technical set of issues. Since the mid-1990s, both U.S. and European multinational companies have viewed divergent ways of regulating markets for both goods and services as the most serious barriers to transatlantic commerce. The primary reason why these companies seek to achieve greater harmonization in standards and regulatory procedures is to reduce costs imposed by having to comply with two different sets of regulations and standards."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34717
U.S. Department of State: http://fpc.state.gov/