Policy | Brussels, 20 March 2015
A trade and investment strategy for jobs and growth
The European Commission aims to release an updated strategy for the European Union’s trade policy in autumn 2015.
Why a new trade strategy?
Trade policy events
- Trade Policy Day
On 23 June 2015, Commissioner Malmström hosted a major trade policy conference in Brussels focusing on the preparation of the new strategy, and involving key stakeholders, academics and experts.
- Civil society and stakeholders
The directorate general for trade organised two broad meetings with civil society – the first was addressed by DG Trade Director General Jean-Luc Demarty on 21 April, the second took place at technical level on 8 May. The directorate general is also meeting with individual groups of stakeholders.
- Contacts in Member State capitals
EU Trade staff are visiting a number of Member State capitals for informal meetings with government and civil society. Meetings so far: Paris (January), London (February), Riga, Tallinn, Helsinki, Vilnius, Warsaw (March), Madrid, Rome (April). Soon to take place are meetings in Berlin, The Hague (May) and Brussels (tbc). Further visits may also be scheduled.
The goals of the European Union's trade policy – creating growth and jobs in Europe, promoting development around the world, strengthening ties with important trading partners – are laid down in the EU's founding treaties. However, the best way to accomplish these goals changes depending on the global context, and the landscape in which our trade policy currently operates is dramatically different from what it used to be five years ago.
As with previous strategies , our approach will be outlined in a Communication from the Commission. After a thorough assessment of the current global and EU economic context, the Communication will describe our strategy for the next five years.
The Commission aims to release the new strategy in the autumn. It will spend the first part of the year on preparation, consulting EU Member States, Members of the European Parliament and the broad range of organisations with an interest in trade policy.
What is the new context?
Changes in the EU and global economy
Over the last five years, the global economy has been absorbing the impact of the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Economists expect that over the next 20 years 90% of world growth will come from outside the EU, mostly in emerging Asia.
Changes in trade policy
Since 2010 the global landscape of trade policy has changed. The pace of conclusion of bilateral and regional free trade agreements has increased all over the world, in Asia in particular. There is also new dynamism within and around the World Trade Organisation.
The EU's trade policy has also changed. We have launched major new bilateral negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the United States (TTIP) and a free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan. We have concluded many others and we are actively engaged in every ongoing multilateral or plurilateral trade initiative.
Moreover, trade negotiations cover today a broader range of issues compared than before, addressing head-on the relationship between trade and regulation, which has thrown up many complex technical and political questions.
Changes in the EU political landscape
EU trade policy receives much more political attention than in 2010. This is partly due to recognition of trade's potential to boost growth and jobs. It is also, however, due to concerns expressed in the contentious debate around the TTIP negotiations. Any new trade strategy will need to find ways to address those concerns.
What issues will the new strategy address?
The economic impact of an open trade policy
The communication will assess how trade affects people's lives in Europe and around the world, by creating jobs, growth and sustainable development.
Delivering results through bilateral free trade agreements
The communication will assess the state of progress of the EU's bilateral free trade agreement agenda. It will need to focus on the two largest and most economically important ongoing negotiations, TTIP and the EU-Japan FTA. It will also have to look at how the EU prioritises different negotiations and focus on the major issues being tackled, such as investment and regulatory cooperation.
Delivering results through the WTO
The communication will look at the ongoing WTO efforts to reach an acceptable deal on the Doha Round, and also set out an agenda beyond Doha, based on broadening the new trade opportunities created by bilateral and plurilateral negotiations.
Building on recent changes like the reform of the Generalised System of Preferences, the new strategy will need to outline the next steps. It should assess in particular if more can be done to promote responsible sourcing supply chains.
Relations with strategic partners
Beyond free trade agreements, the EU's trade relations with major partners play a key role in how trade affects Europe. Emerging countries, like China are very important in this respect, particularly China. The new strategy will need to assess how to secure their long term support for an open rules-based trading system.
How trade negotiations and agreements work
The strategy will need to look into the question of transparency and how to ensure that Europe's citizens are confident their interests are well represented in EU trade policy.
More on the new trade strategy
Speech: The Commission’s Future Trade Strategy, by EU Trade Commissioner Malmström, 23 March 2015