European automotive supplier body, CLEPA, is hailing breakthrough talks this week in Detroit that could see flagship projects set in place to establish global common standards.

Harmonisation has long been a goal of CLEPA - along with its equivalents of OESA in Michigan and JAPIA in Tokyo - but tri-lateral discussions this week on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit have moved the concept significantly forward.

The issue forms a key plank of FTAs around the world, as well as the mammoth TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) aiming to create what would potentially be world's largest free trade zone.

Other American partners are MEMA regarding the harmonisation of technical regulations and EPA, although the latter is not currently an active stakeholder in TTIP.

"It was the first time we really went to discuss the issue of global harmonisation and mutual recognition of standards," CLEPA CEO, Jean-Marc Gales, told just-auto in Detroit.

There is huge potential for significant efficiency improvements should the landmark deal come about that could see the US, European Union, India and the ASEAN region act in tandem with the TTIP and Free Trade Agreements currently being brokered.

"It is driven by TTIP - you might say there is certainly some benefit in terms of tariff reduction," said Gales.

The CLEPA chief outlined some key areas towards the long-wished for goal of harmonisation, namely: which standards on both sides of the Atlantic can be recognised as equivalent - agreeing on products and innovations such as safety systems and autonomous emergency braking.

Also, what will be the process of mutually defining innovations and setting common standards, will be a benchmark evaluation.

"We are not the only ones who decide on this," said Gales. "It is [the] NHTSA and United Nations Economic Council for Europe in Geneva. Overall DG Enterprise and the European Commission - and we as CLEPA - gave a very clear [signal] to the US and Japan we fully support these negotiations and we fully support the common objective.

"Maybe there are some quick wins - out of the 133 regulations out of the 1958 agreement - I am sure we will find a couple of quick wins. It is not going to be simple, it is not fast.

"There are certainly processes we need to set up, but there is a clear willingness to set up common standards on both sides of the Atlantic and also the Pacific. I cannot recollect any tri-lateral we had that was this productive."

The CLEPA CEO added the subject would be addressed again by conference call in the next four weeks to "keep the ball rolling" in the crucial talks.

"The utopia vision is many billions of dollars," said Gales.