The announcement had been expected after European Union officials visited the White House and U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week and Vice President Biden discussed a deal with British and other European leaders during a four-day trip that finished up in London last week.
"Even as we protect our people, we should remember that today’s world presents not only dangers, but opportunities," Obama said.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) backed the plan to move forward.
“A strong, comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the EU has the potential to create significant good-paying jobs for American workers," Camp said. "Negotiations will not be easy, but they have enormous potential to open new opportunities for us to sell our goods and services in the EU. I welcome the President’s movement forward on this effort and look forward to consulting closely with the administration."
“These negotiations provide a rare opportunity to expand U.S. exports of goods and services by eliminating tariff and, especially, non-tariff barriers in Europe, our second largest export market after Canada," Levin said.
Obama also vowed to complete negotiations on a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal being worked on by a dozen nations including Canada, Mexico, Australia, Vietnam, Singapore, Chile and Peru.
A deal between the United States and Europe would be expected to set new, higher standards for trade deals going forward as China, India and Brazil make their presence known on the global trade landscape.
Finishing a deal will be difficult given a range of differences between the two sides, especially on regulatory issues.
Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (D-Mont.) and ranking member Orrin HatchOrrin HatchDems push for outside witnesses at Mnuchin hearing Live coverage: The Senate's 'vote-a-rama' Republicans scramble on ObamaCare replacement plan MORE (R-Utah) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urging him to press for greater access for U.S. agricultural and service exports, improved intellectual property protection, regulatory compliance and a mechanism for dispute settlement in any U.S.-EU trade deal.
Obama set a goal in 2010 to double exports by 2015. That goal is being hampered by financial crises in Europe and slower economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region and the world's economies will have to pick up pace to realize the target.