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Policy | Brussels, 20 November 2014

Background note – Foreign Affairs Council

The Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) Trade on 21 November will be the first of the new Juncker Commission. It brings together Trade Ministers from the Member States and will consider a number of current important trade files. It is chaired by Carlo Calenda, Italy’s Trade Minister, who currently holds the six-month rotating presidency. The meeting will be opened by EU High Representative and Commission Vice-President Federica Mogherini, who will underline the linkages between foreign policy and trade.

The FAC will begin with a public session on legislative items. The proposed orientation debates will focus around the Presidency's efforts to find a compromise on two outstanding proposals: the Modernisation of the EU's Trade Defence Instruments and the International Procurement Instrument.

Trade Commissioner Malmström will then set out her preliminary views on moving the trade agenda forward as part of broader efforts by the new Commission to create jobs and growth. Council is expected to adopt conclusions on this point, recognising the substantial progress being made in the trade area, while indicating priorities that Member States hope the Commissioner will address during her mandate.

On the Doha Development Agenda, she will update Ministers on the progress towards implementing the so-called Bali package. This was a series of measures agreed last December in Bali, including an agreement to cut back red tape and other barriers to doing trade, which should be of particular benefit to developing countries. The recent compromise found between India and the USA on food security should pave the way for WTO Members to adopt this pending Protocol on Trade Facilitation and to fully implement the Bali package, including a work programme for concluding the Doha Development Round of trade talks. The FAC will take stock and consider next steps, in particular following last weekend's G20 Summit in Brisbane.

On the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Commissioner Malmström will debrief Ministers on the state of play of the negotiations. Having met with USTR Froman just prior to the FAC, she will set out the next steps ahead of her visit to Washington DC on 9 December. The Commissioner will also share with Ministers the Commission's efforts to improving transparency around the TTIP negotiations. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions supporting the on-going negotiations under this point.

Commissioner Malmström will update Ministers on negotiations for free trade agreements with Japan and Vietnam, both of which are moving forward and where substantial progress is expected in 2015.

Over lunch, the Commissioner and Ministers will have an exchange of views with the Chairman of the European Parliament's International Trade Committee Bernd Lange. The coming together of representatives from each of the EU's three main institutions will be a valuable opportunity for discussing some of the key issues of EU trade policy.

A press conference will be held at the end of the discussions. The public debates and the press conference can be followed by video streaming.
Tomorrow Trade Commissioner Malmström will also meet with USTR Froman briefly before the FAC in order to get to know each other personally.

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