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Expert groups | Brussels, 1 February 2018

European Commission’s new expert group on EU trade agreements holds first meeting

The European Commission’s new expert group on EU trade agreements held its first meeting today in Brussels.

The Commission has set up the expert group to provide an additional forum for getting expert advice and differing perspectives on trade. The group builds on the Commission’s long-standing, active dialogue mechanism with civil society on trade issues.

30 organisations representing business, trade unions, consumers, the environment and other areas participated in the first meeting. The number of participants is intended to foster in-depth dialogue. The Commission’s idea is to consult the group on new issues for trade negotiations and areas where it feels it needs a broader perspective. The Commission hopes the group’s input will help it in its ongoing efforts to ensure that EU trade policy is state-of-the-art and progressive.

Welcoming the participants members to today’s meeting, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said she hoped the expert group would be a forum for open and frank discussion.

“There will be plenty to discuss,” said Malmström. “For instance on the Multilateral Investment Court, e-commerce, trade and gender, trade and consumers, and provisions in trade agreements for smaller and medium-sized firms.”

“We count on you to bring to our attention trade issues in the debate at national level that we may not have spotted and that we should pay attention to,” she said.

The Commissioner gave an overview of the state of play of the EU’s ongoing negotiations and other policy work, noting that many of the EU’s partners were looking to the EU for global leadership on trade.

The group and Commissioner Malmström discussed current issues related to trade agreements and possible issues for input and reflection from the group. There was also an in-depth discussion on the issue of consumers and trade agreements.

The Commission will publish reports of the meetings, as well as papers submitted by the Group’s members.