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Procedure : 2018/0091M(NLE)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0367/2018

Texts tabled :

A8-0367/2018

Debates :

PV 11/12/2018 - 14
CRE 11/12/2018 - 14

Votes :

PV 12/12/2018 - 12.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2018)0505

Texts adopted
PDF 133kWORD 58k
Wednesday, 12 December 2018 - Strasbourg Final edition
EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (resolution)
P8_TA(2018)0505A8-0367/2018

European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 12 December 2018 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and Japan for an Economic Partnership (07964/2018 – C8-0382/2018 – 2018/0091M(NLE))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07964/2018),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and Japan for an Economic Partnership (07965/2018),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 91, Article 100(2), the first subparagraph of Article 207(4), point (a) (v) of the second subparagraph of Article 218(6), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (C8‑0382/2018),

–  having regard to the joint statement of the 25th EU-Japan summit of 17 July 2018,

–  having regard to the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement which was signed on 17 July 2018,

–  having regard to the negotiating directives for a Free Trade Agreement with Japan, adopted by the Council on 29 November 2012 and published on 14 September 2017,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2012 on EU trade negotiations with Japan(1),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 3 February 2016 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)(2), and of 12 December 2017 entitled ‘Towards a digital trade strategy’(3),

–  having regard to the Final Report of the Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment of the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan of April 2016 and to the analysis on the economic impact of the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement published by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade in June 2018,

–  having regard to the joint statement of the 38th EU-Japan interparliamentary meeting of 10 May 2018,

–  having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York in September 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Trade for All – Towards more responsible trade and investment policy’ of October 2015,

–  having regard to the non-paper of the Commission services of 26 February 2018 entitled ‘Feedback and way forward on improving the implementation and enforcement of Trade and Sustainable Development chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements’,

–  having regard to the opinions of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 October 2014 on the role of civil society in the EU-Japan Free Trade Agreement and of 14 February 2018 on trade and sustainable development chapters in EU Free Trade Agreements,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 15-point plan to make EU trade and sustainable development chapters more effective of 26 February 2018;

–  having regard to Opinion 2/15 of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 16 May 2017, pursuant to Article 218(11) (TFEU, requested by the Commission on 10 July 2015,

–  having regard to Protocol 26 to the TFEU on services of general interest,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Articles 168 to 191 TFEU and, in particular, Article 191(2) TFEU,

–  having regard to Articles 91, 100(2) and 207 TFEU, and to Article 218 TFEU, in particular paragraph 10 thereof,

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 12 December 2018(4) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to Rule 99(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0367/2018),

A.  whereas the Union and Japan share fundamental values such as respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and a strong commitment to sustainable development and a rules-based World Trade Organisation (WTO) system;

B.  whereas the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) has a strategic dimension and is the most important bilateral trade agreement ever concluded by the Union as it covers nearly a third of world GDP, almost 40 % of world trade and over 600 million people;

C.  whereas Japan is the world’s third largest consumer market but only the sixth export market for the Union, showing the untapped potential of bilateral trade;

D.  whereas several ex ante studies and analyses on the impact of the EU-Japan EPA indicate that the deal has the potential to deliver positive effects in terms of GDP growth, income, trade, productivity and employment for both the Union and Japan, while adhering to the objective of ‘smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’; whereas the agreement also has the potential to bring benefits to consumers by lowering prices and increasing consumer choice with regard to goods and services; whereas the EU and its Member States should improve the existing tools to help workers and companies adapt to new opportunities and to the potential negative effects of globalisation and trade agreements; whereas the success of the agreement should also be assessed on the basis of its contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030;

E.  whereas Parliament has monitored these negotiations from the start and has called, inter alia, for negotiators to meet the interests of citizens, civil society and businesses and for transparency, which has led to better access to documents, regular reporting on negotiations and improved communication; whereas further improvements could be made to the trade agreement procedure in the future, notably by sharing EU proposals and ensuring that the Council systematically publishes the negotiating directives before the negotiations;

F.  whereas it is crucial for the trade preferences and opportunities opened up by the agreement to be accessible and for full use to be made of them;

1.  Considers this agreement to be of major bilateral and global strategic importance and that it represents a timely signal in support of open, fair, values- and rules-based trade, while promoting high standards, namely in the field of the environment, food safety, consumer protection and labour rights, at a time of serious protectionist challenges to the international order; warns that such protectionism is not an option and that the status quo in trade policy is no longer tenable;

2.  Welcomes the ambitious and comprehensive nature of the EPA, which delivers on the priorities set out in Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2012 on EU trade negotiations with Japan;

3.  Notes in particular the high level of tariff liberalisation agreed in the EPA, which once fully implemented will see 99 % of EU tariff lines and 97 % of Japanese tariff lines liberalised, including for industrial products in sectors in which the EU is very competitive, combined with measures to safeguard the most sensitive products through duty-free quotas, reduced duties or staging periods; underlines that the EPA includes an anti-fraud clause, which makes it possible for the EU to withdraw trade preferences in cases of fraud and refusal to cooperate on customs matters, while ensuring that legitimate traders are not adversely affected;

4.  Points out that the EU tariff on automobiles will be phased out over seven years; calls on the Commission to keep an eye on trends in automobile trade flows over this period in order to predict any destabilisation of the European market and address the situation in these cases; highlights, however, that a significant number of Japanese vehicle brands sold in the EU are manufactured in the EU;

5.  Points out that Japan has addressed unnecessary non-tariff measures (NTMs) in a variety of sectors such as vehicles, food additives, sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, food labelling and cosmetics, thereby reducing compliance costs and creating a more predictable regulatory framework; recalls a country’s right to set national standards at a level that is higher than international ones when it is justified for the sake of adequate health, safety or consumer protection; takes note, in addition, of Japan’s commitment to align its automotive standards with UN Economic Commission for Europe international standards, also used by EU car manufacturers;

6.  Welcomes the fact that Japan will, notably, grant non-discriminatory access for EU suppliers to the procurement markets of 54 core cities, and may increase the number of cities covered even further, remove the ‘operational safety clause’, which has in practice prevented EU rail suppliers from accessing the Japanese market, and maximise transparency in tendering for public contracts; calls on the Commission to monitor the implementation of this point closely to ensure that the commitments made in the areas of openness and equal access to public procurement are fulfilled; stresses that social and environmental criteria should also be taken into account when awarding public procurement contracts; highlights that in both the EU and Japan public procurement must continue to serve the best interests of citizens;

7.  Considers that Japan is a highly valuable export market for EU farmers and food producers, and notes that around 85 % of agri-food products will be allowed to enter Japan duty-free; points out that processed agricultural products will also enjoy duty-free entry to the Japanese market after a transitional period; welcomes the fact that the agreement provides significant export opportunities for EU agri-food products, such as wine, beef, pig meat and cheese, and that it protects 205 European geographical indications (GIs), with the possibility of adding further GIs, which constitutes a further improvement in comparison to previous trade agreements and is particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food sector; calls for the continuation of talks after three years in order to evaluate the options for expanding the list of protected GIs, and expects both parties to pay the utmost attention to sustainable agriculture, including small-scale food production and rural development;

8.  Highlights the fact that the agreement promotes best practices for providing safe and high-quality food and products for consumers; stresses that nothing in the agreement prevents the application of the precautionary principle in the EU as set out in the TFEU; welcomes the inclusion of a clear reference to the precautionary approach in the agreement; stresses that the agreement must under no circumstances jeopardise precise, understandable and EU-compliant food labelling; calls on both partners to enhance consumer protection, consumer welfare and food safety in the implementation of the agreement and on the Commission to include specific and strong provisions on consumer protection in all future EU trade agreements;

9.  Stresses that both parties are committed to ensuring high levels of environmental and labour protection and that those high standards should not be regarded as trade barriers, while noting that the agreement also makes it clear that labour and environmental standards cannot be relaxed or lowered to attract trade and investment; recalls SDG 5 of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; welcomes the fact that both Japan and the EU have adhered to the Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade and calls on both parties to strongly reinforce commitments on gender and trade in the context of this agreement, including the right to equal pay; expects the EU and Japan to take all necessary steps to implement the SDGs in all their activities, including through this agreement; asks the Commission to carry out an ex-post sustainability impact assessment of the implementation of the agreement;

10.  Welcomes the commitment to the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement to combat climate change and of other multilateral environmental agreements, as well as to the sustainable management of forests (including fighting illegal logging) and fisheries (combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing); underlines that EU legislation and standards remain applicable to products imported into the EU market and that, in particular, the EU Timber Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 995/2010) prohibits the placing of illegal timber on the EU market and establishes a mandatory due diligence system; calls on both parties to cooperate closely under the sustainable development chapter to exchange best practices and to strengthen the enforcement of legislation in these matters, including on the most effective measures to combat illegal logging and on paying particular attention to preventing exports of illegally logged timber from the EU to Japan;

11.  Highlights the fact that the agreement includes the clear commitment to pursue the ratification of fundamental International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions; underlines that Japan has yet to ratify two ILO core conventions (on discrimination and on the abolition of forced labour) and expects concrete progress within a reasonable timeframe on the part of Japan towards the ratification and effective implementation of these conventions, in accordance with the provisions laid down in the EPA;

12.  Welcomes the fact that Japan has established an interministerial framework to deal with the implementation of sustainable development commitments, including the ratification of the ILO core conventions, and that the trade and sustainable development committee provided for in the agreement is tasked with interacting with civil society on the subject of the implementation of the sustainable development chapter;

13.  Recalls that the Court of Justice of the European Union has stated, in paragraph 161 of its Opinion 2/15 of 16 May 2017 on the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, that trade and sustainable development chapters have a direct and immediate effect on trade and that a breach of sustainable development provisions authorises the other party to terminate or suspend the liberalisation provided for in the other provisions of the Free Trade Agreement; welcomes the inclusion of a review clause in the chapter on trade and sustainable development and calls on both parties to make good and timely use of this clause in order to uphold the commitments made and improve the enforceability and effectiveness of labour and environmental provisions, including the consideration of, among various enforcement methods, a sanctions-based mechanism as a last resort; calls on both parties not to wait until the review clause is triggered to take steps towards effective implementation, so as to ensure that this EPA is a front-running agreement providing the highest protection possible; calls on the Commission to monitor the commitments undertaken in the trade and sustainable development chapter and to cooperate with Japan on their implementation, building on the Commission’s 15-point non-paper on trade and sustainable development implementation;

14.  Underlines the fact that the EPA reasserts the right of Member State authorities to fully define, provide and regulate public services at local, regional or national level and that a negative list as provided for in this agreement does not prevent governments from bringing any privatised services back into the public sector or from freely developing new public utilities; believes that as a principle, the use of a positive list approach as per the WTO General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS) is preferable; notes the commitment made by both parties in the EPA to protecting public water management as part of the general public services exemption;

15.  Believes that market access commitments in cross-border services, including e-commerce, maritime transport, postal services, energy and telecommunications, have the potential to give a significant boost to trade in services; considers that the agreement will make it easier for EU firms to provide services on the Japanese market by ensuring fairer treatment; recalls that public policy objectives must be safeguarded, including in the field of cybersecurity, and that policy space must be preserved to address future regulatory challenges;

16.  Points out that the EPA provides for the temporary movement of professionals across borders (‘mode 4’), committing both sides to intra-corporate transfers in roughly 40 sectors and for independent professionals in roughly 20 sectors, thereby facilitating EU-Japan foreign direct investment ties;

17.  Stresses that the agreement preserves the sovereign right to regulate the financial and banking sectors for prudential and supervisory reasons; calls on both partners to use the financial regulatory forum to improve the global financial system;

18.  Welcomes key innovative elements such as dedicated chapters or provisions on the Paris Agreement, on SMEs and on corporate governance, aiming to promote corporate social responsibility based on the principles of the G20 and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); urges both parties to work actively towards corporate social responsibility and towards the conclusion of the UN Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights;

19.  Stresses that regulatory cooperation is voluntary and that it by no means limits the right to regulate; recalls that corresponding provisions must be implemented in full respect of the prerogatives of the co-legislators; welcomes the fact that the regulatory cooperation chapter clearly states that the principles established in the TFEU, such as the precautionary principle, must be fully respected;

20.  Calls for transparency on the functioning of the regulatory cooperation committee and for the adequate involvement of all stakeholders, notably trade unions and civil society organisations, which should be regarded as a prerequisite for continuing to build public trust in the agreement and its implications; stresses that Parliament should be kept informed on a regular basis about the decisions taken in the regulatory cooperation committee;

21.  Notes that negotiations continue on a separate investment agreement, which Parliament will monitor closely; notes that the Commission has introduced an investment court system in agreements with other partners, pending the establishment of a multilateral investment court; reiterates that the old, private investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism is unacceptable and that there is no mandate to return to it;

22.  Welcomes the fact that the EU and Japan successfully concluded their talks on a reciprocal adequacy decision on 17 July 2018 and that they agreed to recognise each other’s data protection systems as ‘equivalent’, which will enable data to flow more safely between the EU and Japan; highlights the important role of the respective data protection authorities in safeguarding an adequate level of data protection; notes that the agreement includes a rendez-vous clause providing for an assessment of the issue of cross-border transfer of data provisions within three years and recognises the increasing importance of the digital economy for growth and jobs; recalls that all trade agreements must fully respect the EU acquis on data protection and the protection of privacy, including the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679), and stresses that any future outcome must be subject to the consent of Parliament and safeguard EU citizens’ fundamental rights;

23.  Calls on the Commission to enhance cooperation and coordination with Japan on multilateral issues, in close cooperation with other strategic partners, in order to defend and develop further international standards and an open, fair and strong multilateral trading system based on respect for WTO rules and other international norms;

24.  Highlights that 78 % of the EU companies exporting to Japan are smaller companies and welcomes the fact that the EPA includes a separate chapter on SMEs to enable them to gain maximum benefits from the agreement, namely through clauses committing both parties to transparency with regard to market access and to sharing relevant information; calls for the prompt establishment of the SME contact points and website to make sure that relevant information on market access is made available to SMEs;

25.  Calls on the Commission to monitor closely the proper implementation of the agreed removal of the NTMs, as well as the management of tariff-rate quotas for agricultural products, and to report back to Parliament;

26.  Urges both partners to ensure the active involvement of social partners and civil society, notably through the joint dialogue with civil society and the domestic advisory group; calls on the Commission to actively establish and share best practices with Japan on the functioning of domestic advisory groups and the joint dialogue; calls on both parties to ensure the swift establishment of well-functioning, effective and balanced domestic advisory groups with a proper code of conduct and to ensure that their views are taken into account in a transparent manner in the government-to-government consultations provided for in the agreement;

27.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the EU delegation to Japan is involved in the process of implementing the agreement from start to finish; points out that EU delegations make it possible to take swift and direct action to ensure the proper implementation of trade provisions and that issues and obstacles are detected quickly and dealt with effectively;

28.  Expects full transparency vis-à-vis the functioning of the sectoral committees to be established under the agreement, with regard to both Parliament and the general public;

29.  Commits to monitoring the implementation of the agreement closely, in close cooperation with the Commission, the stakeholders and the Japanese partners;

30.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the government and parliament of Japan.

(1) OJ C 72 E, 11.3.2014, p. 16.
(2) OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 21.
(3) OJ C 369, 11.10.2018, p. 22.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0504.

Last updated: 7 October 2019Legal notice