Trade Policy Review - An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy

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Mnenje strokovne skupine EESO: Trade Policy Review - An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy

DG Trade has carried out intensive consultations on this policy and the Committee send a comprehensive written contribution at an early stage of the process in last autumn, compiling relevant elements from opinions across the EESC.

In its communication, the Commission stresses trade's crucial role in supporting wider EU geopolitical objectives. It's a strategy covering all aspects of trade that will guide the EU for the years ahead and as such, it is extremely wide ranging. In his address at the EESC plenary in March 2021, EVP Dombrovskis stressed two points that were of notable interest to the Committee: The new trade policy would be focussed on sustainability and assertiveness.

At the multilateral level, the reform of the WTO is a priority for the Commission, given trade needs strong and appropriate global rules. The Commission's approach is pragmatic: identifying a realistic number of deliverable outcomes in which trade can play a key role. For the EU, these priorities are: (1) addressing Covid-19 (initiatives ensuring timely production and delivery of vaccines); (2) restoring a binding, two-tier and independent dispute settlement, addressing the current Appellate Body crisis; and (3) negotiations on fisheries subsidies. The 12th Ministerial Conference could also boost other ambitious initiatives: (1) tackling the effects of Covid-19 on trade; (2) supporting environmental and social sustainability; (3) updating the rules for digital trade; and (4) addressing unfair trading practices.

The Commission is also committed to promoting EU values, including on climate and sustainability, in bilateral relationships. Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) chapters will thus continue to be a core part of free trade agreements. The Commission had also started working on the review of the 15-point action plan. There were several other initiatives underway: Mandatory due diligence legislation, anti-coercion instrument, foreign subsidies instrument, feasibility study on export credits, and the push for an International Procurement Instrument.

Trade policy would also be more assertive as the EU planned to defend the commitments that partners had undertaken either at WTO level, or in bilateral agreements. The Commission had already started working on a set of autonomous measures to face unfair practices in international trade.