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The EU and the WTO | Geneva, 18 February 2019

WTO Members assess EU’s track record on trade policy

Today, in Geneva, WTO Members met for the first day of the 14th Trade Policy Review of the European Union, covering developments and achievements for the period 2017-2019. The Trade Policy Review (TPR) Mechanism is the most important transparency exercise of the WTO. It allows for a profound and systematic examination of the trade policies of WTO Members and ensures their accountability.

The discussion today complements a written review process, involving a detailed report by the WTO Secretariat and by the EU, and over 1,600 questions from 39 WTO Members, to which the EU is responding within the deadlines prescribed by the process. The questions not only cover trade policy per se. but also any economic policy issue of interest to our trading partners such as agriculture, competition policy, foreign direct investment, environment and climate and digital issues.

Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan welcomed the process: “I am proud that the EU can demonstrate, via this detailed and transparent review, that we remain firmly anchored in the rules-based trading system despite the significant tensions in global trade. The EU’s policy is balanced and progressive, and seeks to harness globalisation and promote sustainable development. Moreover, the Trade Policy Review Process is an essential exercise in transparency of WTO Members’ trade and regulatory policies.”

The EU’s most senior permanent trade official, Director-General Sabine Weyand, also addressed the WTO membership, setting out key policy developments in the EU since 2017 and highlighting the priorities of the new Commission, notably the European Green Deal and the Digital Single Market. The EU maintains its full commitment to trade-friendly and transparent regulatory practices in the internal market and its trajectory of reforms such as on agriculture.

The EU is at the forefront of efforts to reform the WTO notably in its rule-making, dispute settlement and monitoring functions. Today WTO Members acknowledged the EU's efforts in this regard in their statements.

Discussions and questions also covered the EU’s wider trade policy, including its expanding network of trade agreements, most recently with the signing of a trade agreement with Vietnam and concluding negotiations with Mercosur.

The meeting will finish on Thursday.

Background

The Trade Policy Review Mechanism is a key transparency and monitoring exercise of the WTO. It subjects the trade policies and practices of WTO members to the scrutiny of their peers and by doing so enhances transparency and promotes smoother functioning of the multilateral trading system.

Since the 2016 reform of the Trade Policy Review Mechanism, the four largest Members, in terms of trade volume, are reviewed every three years. Currently, these Members are the EU (last reviewed in July 2017), the US (last reviewed in December 2018), Japan (under ongoing review) and China (last reviewed in July 2018).

The reviews are based on a report presented by the WTO Secretariat, a report by the Member under review and a written question and answer process involving the whole Membership. The current review of the EU's trade policy covers the period July 2017 to October 2019.

Further information and related documents: 

EU statement by DG Trade Director-General Sabine Weyand
WTO report on the 14th EU Trade Policy Review: Full report | Executive summary
EU report on the 14th EU Trade Policy Review
Permanent Mission of the EU to the WTO