President Juncker and President Tusk are meeting today with the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, with the negotiations for a bilateral trade deal featuring prominently on the agenda. In a statement given before the meeting, President Juncker said: We believe this agreement is necessary because we believe in free, fair and rules-based trade. And so we will continue to look out towards the world, rather than return to isolationism. The EU is open for fair business. Our negotiations with Japan are now in a decisive – and hopefully final – stage. Prime Minister Abe’s visit will allow us to reiterate our political commitment to a highly comprehensive, ambitious and balanced deal, so that our capable negotiators make the necessary progress in the outstanding areas. Following our discussions today, I am very confident this will pave the way for a swift agreement this year. As we approach the final stages of the negotiating process, on the EU side we will continue to ensure a high level of transparency and engage directly with stakeholders and civil society on issues related to the negotiations. I look forward to continuing this close partnership with Prime Minister Abe at the upcoming G7 meeting in Taormina, and hopefully at the next EU-Japan summit where we can successfully conclude our negotiations. EU and Japanese negotiators will meet for a new round in Tokyo in April, and the process will intensify further thereafter. Alongside the trade agreement, the EU and Japan are also negotiating a Strategic Partnership Agreement, and leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing negotiations and press ahead for their swift conclusion. This new agreement would reflect Japan’s position as a key strategic partner of the EU in Asia and, alongside the trade agreement, demonstrates the partners’ joint commitment to open and rules-based trade as well as to the principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Additionally, in the margins of the CeBIT digital business fair in Hanover, Germany Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Vĕra Jourová launched yesterday the dialogue on data protection and data flows with Japan, to further EU-Japan bilateral cooperation on the data economy.
The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which aims to boost goods and services trade and investment flows, was approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday. The landmark trade deal could apply provisionally from as early as April 2017.
“By adopting CETA, we chose openness and growth and high standards over protectionism and stagnation. Canada is a country with whom we share common values and an ally we can rely on. Together we can build bridges, instead of a wall, for the prosperity of our citizens. CETA will be a lighthouse for future trade deals all over the world”, Parliament’s rapporteur for the CETA agreement Artis Pabriks (EPP, LV) said after the vote.
The deal was approved by 408 votes to 254, with 33 abstentions.
CETA will remove tariffs on most traded goods and services. It also provides for the mutual recognition of certification for a wide range of products. Canada is to open up its federal and municipal public procurement markets, which are already open in Europe. EU suppliers of services ranging from sea shipping through telecoms and engineering to environmental services and accountancy will get access to the Canadian market.
Protecting farm produce and social standards
In talks, the EU secured protection for over 140 European geographical indications for food and drinks sold on the Canadian market. Sustainable development clauses were included to safeguard environmental and social standards and ensure that trade and investment enhance both.
To allay citizens’ concerns that the deal gives too much power to multinational companies and that governments will not be able to legislate to protect health, safety or the environment, the EU and Canada recognise in both the preamble to the deal and an attached joint declaration that its provisions apply without prejudice to the domestic right to regulate.
The CETA deal will not remove tariff barriers in the fields of public services, audiovisual and transport services and a few agricultural products, such as dairy, poultry and eggs.
More transparent investment protection
In response to European parliamentary pressure, the controversial investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism was replaced by the Investment Court System (ICS), which aims to ensure government control over the choice of arbitrators and enhances transparency.
EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement
MEPs also gave their consent to the conclusion of an EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). Complementing the CETA, this deal aims to step up EU-Canada bilateral cooperation on a wide range of non-trade issues such as foreign and security policy, counter-terrorism, fighting organised crime, sustainable development, research and culture. The EU-Canada SPA was approved by 506 votes to 142, with 43 abstentions,
The CETA deal could apply provisionally on the first day of the second month following the date both sides have notified each other that they completed all necessary internal procedures. MEPs expect this to be the case on 1 April 2017 at the earliest. As CETA was declared a mixed agreement by the European Commission in July 2016, it will also need to be ratified by national and regional parliaments.
Click on names to watch individual statements during the final debate before the vote:
Artis Pabriks, Rapporteur (EPP, LV)
Charles Tannock (ECR, UK)
Charles Tannock (AFET) (ECR, UK)
Georgi Pirinski (EMPL) (S&D, BG)
Bart Staes (ENVI) (Green/ALE, BE)
Cecilia Malmstrom, EU Commissioner, in charge of International Trade
Manfred Weber (EPP, DE)
Gianni Pittella (S&D, IT)
Syed Kamall (ECR, UK)
Marietje Schaake (ALDE, NL)
Anne-Marie Mineur (GUE/NGL, NL)
Yannick Jadot (Green/ALE, FR)
Tiziana Beghin (EFDD, IT)
Marine Le Pen (ENF, FR)
Konstantinos Papadakis (NI, EL)
The CETA negotiations were launched in May 2009 and concluded in September 2014. The EU and Canada signed the agreement on 30 October 2016. In 2015 the EU imported goods from Canada worth €28.3 billion and exported goods to it worth €35.2 billion, a figure that is expected to rise by more than 20% when the agreement is implemented in full.
Companies exporting from Europe to the US are spread out right across Europe, and are based not just in cities but in thousands of small towns and even villages. This can be seen by exploring the wealth of data available through the Commission’s new data visualisation tool “EU-US trade in your town“. The tool allows users to find out where companies are located, what the most exported products are from any given region and to where in the US they are exported. For each town, the tool also gives information about its share in all the overall jobs linked to US exports, knowing that EU export to the US supports almost 5 million jobs in the EU. Users of the tool will be able to get answers to questions such as: what are the most popular exports from Finnish Lapland, to the US? What is Thessaloniki’s share of all Greek jobs that are linked to exports to the US? And which American towns import products from Brussels, Belgium? In total, more than 180,000 European companies export to the US today, and almost 90 percent of them are smaller firms with less than 250 employees. These companies would be the first beneficiaries of improved trade relations between the EU and the US. In total, 30 million jobs in the EU are linked to exports to other countries, and country-by-country information on how these jobs are spread out is also available here.
On 13 December 2016, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed on the Council’s negotiating position on a proposal to modernise the EU’s trade defence instruments.
“This is a major breakthrough,” said Peter Žiga, Slovakia’s minister in charge of trade and President of the Council. “Our trade defence instruments have remained largely the same for over 15 years but the situation on world markets has changed dramatically. Europe cannot be naïve and has to defend its interests, especially in case of dumping. This is a crucial step towards a solid solution that would help EU producers cope with unfair competition and practices.”
The proposed regulation amends current anti-dumping and anti-subsidies regulations to better respond to unfair trade practices. The purpose is to shield EU producers from damage caused by unfair competition, ensuring free and fair trade.
In particular, the proposed regulation sets out to:
- Increase transparency and predictability as concerns the imposition of provisional anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures. This includes a period of four weeks after the information is made public in which provisional duties will not yet be applied.
- Enable investigations to be initiated without an official request from industry, when a threat of retaliation by third countries exists.
- Shorten the investigation period
- Enable higher duties to be imposed in cases where there are raw material distortions and these raw materials, including energy, account for more than 27% of the cost of production in total and more than 7% taken individually. This would allow for limited deviations from the EU “lesser duty rule” whereby duties must not be higher than what is necessary to prevent injury for an EU industry. The imposition of higher duties will based on a target profit and also be subject to a Union interest test.
- Enable importers to be reimbursed duties collected during an expiry review in the event of trade defence measures not being maintained.
This is the first fundamental review of the EU’s trade defence instruments since 1995. In April 2013, the Commission presented a proposal to modernise the existing instruments and make them work better for EU producers, importers and users. At its meeting on 20-21 October 2016, the European Council called for a balanced agreement on the Council position by the end of 2016.
The European Commission welcomes the agreement reached today by the Council on its negotiating position on a proposal to modernise the EU’s trade defence instruments. “This is a major step in adapting our legislation to today’s economic realities”, said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, adding that “Europe needs to make sure that we have modern, state-of-the-art tools in place to deal with unfair trading practices when needed. The EU stands for free, rules-based trade and we must be able to address unfair subsidies and dumping with determination. The tireless efforts of the Slovak Presidency, and by Member States, have been instrumental in finding this compromise. I now hope that constructive trilogue negotiations between the Council, Parliament and Commission can start without delay.” The agreement builds on the proposal presented by the Commission in 2013 aiming at providing Europe’s trade defence instruments with more transparency, faster procedures and more effective enforcement. In exceptional cases such as in the presence of distortions in the cost of raw materials, it will enable the EU to impose higher duties through the limited suspension of the so-called lesser duty rule. The October European Council asked for “an urgent and balanced agreement on the comprehensive modernisation of all trade defence instruments by the end of 2016”, following the discussion of the Communication presented by the Commission “Towards a robust trade policy for the EU in the interest of jobs and growth“. The Commission stands ready to facilitate the trilogue discussions with the European Parliament and the Council to agree and implement these changes.
The European Commission and Canadian Government are today and tomorrow co-hosting in Geneva the first exploratory discussions with government representatives from around the world on the establishment of a multilateral investment court. It will be the first meeting at government-to-government level on this initiative since it was first proposed by the Commission in May 2015. The ultimate aim is to establish a single permanent body to decide investment disputes, thus moving away from the ad hoc system of investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS) which is currently included in around 3200 investment treaties in force today – of which EU member states have 1400. This future body would be open for all interested countries to join and would adjudicate disputes under both future and existing investment treaties. For EU level agreements, it would also replace the bilateral Investment Court Systems included in EU level agreements with FTA partners. The discussions today and tomorrow are intended to be the first in a series of meetings to take place in the coming year to move forward on this important initiative. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Canada’s Minister for International Trade Chrystia Freeland also intend to discuss the multilateral investment court initiative with other trade ministers in the margins of the World Economic Forum in Davos on 20 January 2017.
The Commission published today – as part of its commitmentfor a more transparent trade and investment policy – six initial European proposals for modernising various elements of the EU-Mexico agreement. These texts represent the EU’s initial negotiating position. Together with the proposals, the Commission has made available the report from the second round of talks that took place in Mexico between 22 and 25 November. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said: “Sixteen years have passed since the current EU-Mexico deal became effective. Today we need to adapt it to a new trade reality. We’ve had some good initial talks with our Mexican counterparts, but to reach a good agreement we also need constructive engagement from interested parties, including civil society. The proposals published today, in line with our transparency commitments, will contribute to that discussion.” Amongst other things, the texts presented by the EU in the negotiations aim to: increase participation of European companies in Mexican public tenders and vice versa; increase cooperation on imports requirements related to food safety, plant and animal health; facilitate trade in energy products and raw materials; and broaden protection of intellectual property, including names of traditional European products known as ‘geographical indications’. The proposals seek to reduce unnecessary regulatory barriers to trade and increase the part of trade benefits that go to small companies. At the same time, their aim is to uphold levels of consumer, worker and environment protection and work together with Mexico towards sustainable development. Further EU proposals will be made available as the negotiations progress. EU negotiating proposals and other trade documents published since 14 October 2015 are available on the Transparency in Action portal
Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström flies today to Geneva, Switzerland to attempt to reach a deal on an Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA) on behalf of the EU and together with 16 other members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This deal would aim to remove tariffs on hundreds of products that protect the environment and contribute to the fight against climate change. Commissioner Malmström will co-chair the ministerial meeting, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday and Sunday, along with US Trade Representative Michael Froman. The Commissioner said: “I sincerely hope that the participating members will live up to their expressed commitments to reach a deal. If these negotiations are to succeed, all countries will now need to demonstrate flexibility and will to compromise. Making trade in environmentally friendly technologies cheaper is a key step on the way towards reaching the targets set in the Paris agreement on climate”. The deal is expected to cover a range of green products, such as renewable energy and energy-saving technologies, waste handling and recycling systems, and water treatment and air pollution control devices. Around 4 million people are already employed in the environmental goods sector in the EU today, and the industry is growing. The signatories to the EGA would include countries representing over 90% of world trade in green goods.
On Tuesday 18 October 2016, PubAffairs Bruxelles hosted a debate on the role of IPR and brand protection in promoting EU growth with Mr Jean Luc Gal, European Commission, Intellectual Property and Fight Against Counterfeiting, DG GROW, Mr Gaetano De Salvo, Permanent Representation of Italy to the EU, Internal Market and IPR, Mr Paul Skehan, Director General, Spirits Europe and Mr Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics, Institute of Economic Affairs (IAE). The debate was moderated by Matthew Newman, Senior correspondent at MLex.
The EU Institutions have reached an agreement on the final shape of an EU Regulation on conflict minerals, which aims to stop the financing of armed groups in developing countries through the trade of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold. The agreement on the Regulation, brokered by the Commission, is set to ensure sustainable sourcing for more than 95% of all EU imports of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, which will be covered by due diligence provisions as of 1 January 2021. In the meantime, the Commission and Member States will work to make sure that the necessary structures are in place to ensure EU-wide implementation. “The rules we agreed upon are a huge step forward in our efforts to stop human rights abuses and armed conflict financed by trade in minerals. I’m convinced that it will have real impact on the ground, for the people suffering from such conflicts. I sincerely hope that the EU model will now set an example for other countries to follow,” said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. Video from the press conference and stockshots are available. Since a political understanding on the core elements of the Regulation was reached in June of this year, the Council and the European Parliament have been working together to finalise the text. The key issue was to define how and when the Regulation will apply to EU importers. Accompanying measures to provide support for importers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will also be deployed. This will be combined with a range of development aid and foreign policy actions to ensure the effectiveness of the Regulation, and its positive impact on the ground. Formally, the Regulation will now be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament.