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Procedure : 2010/2152(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A7-0255/2011

Texts tabled :

A7-0255/2011

Debates :

PV 27/09/2011 - 4
CRE 27/09/2011 - 4

Votes :

PV 27/09/2011 - 8.17
CRE 27/09/2011 - 8.17
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


Debates
Tuesday, 27 September 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

4. New trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the report by Daniel Caspary, on behalf of the Committee on International Trade, on a new trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy [2010/2152(INI)] (A7-0255/2011).

 
  
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  Daniel Caspary, rapporteur.(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the global economy has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. Alongside the traditional economic powers like the European Union and the United States, thriving regions like Asia, in the form of China and India, or South America are emerging more and more out of the economic shadows.

That also has to have an impact on our policies and our strategy. However, I am not convinced that the Commission’s new trade strategy will provide adequate answers to these changes. The challenges that the European Union is facing in the area of external trade can be illustrated very well with a few figures.

By 2015, 90% of global growth will be generated outside the Union, with 50 countries, including the 27 Member States of the EU, accounting for 80% of world trade. However, the European Union’s share in the world’s relative GDP is continually declining and is faced with a rapid increase in the performance of the emerging countries.

In 2000, at the launch of the Lisbon strategy, the European Union still accounted for 25% of world GDP. By 2020, this share will fall to just 18% of world GDP. While the two biggest developed economies, Europe and the United States, accounted for 48% of world GDP in the year 2000, this share will be down to a third by 2020. That is a relative decline of 27%.

China and India will account for around a quarter of world economic output by 2020. That is a relative increase of 150%. In this regard, we need to bear in mind that the European Union’s economy is highly dependent on participating in external growth. Even today, 18% of the Union’s labour force, in other words, almost 40 million jobs, is dependent on the Union’s trade performance.

The comparison between trade opening and employment over the past 10 years in almost all countries in the world shows that trade opening goes together with higher employment and job creation. Therefore, we must make use of these opportunities.

There is something that I believe to be particularly important. The Commission is called on to present a revised mid- and long-term trade strategy by the summer of 2013. This should be possible on the basis of a thorough analysis of the current trends in world trade and a forecast of developments within and outside the European Union over the next 10 to 15 years.

I would be very pleased, Commissioner De Gucht, if you could assure us of that already today. I think that we need a genuine future-oriented strategy in order to better deal with the changes that have occurred over the last 10 years.

I would also briefly like to mention one particular paragraph contained in the report, and that is paragraph 11, because many people still only associate bad news, such as job relocations and environmental and social dumping, with trade or globalisation. Yes, these things do exist too, and it is our job to work together to tackle them.

However, we all experience the good side of trade on a daily basis: affordable products in our shops, export opportunities and new jobs, for example, in mechanical engineering, vehicle manufacturing or with service providers. The positive contribution made by trade policy to the combating of poverty also gets far too brief a mention in the public debate. In this regard, I would like to see a balanced information campaign by the Commission highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of external trade, and I would be extremely grateful if we could uphold this demand contained in the report.

I would like to thank everyone who has worked on this report most sincerely – all of the many colleagues in various talks and with more than 200 amendments in committee. I would like to thank Parliament’s administration and various external partners in dialogue from numerous different spheres who have supported us all with their background knowledge and their convictions and provided both positive and negative comments. It is now up to the Commission to take up our proposals and to implement them. We will be keeping a very watchful eye on this, Mr De Gucht.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, I would like to thank Members for this opportunity to comment on the excellent report prepared by Daniel Caspary. I appreciate the frank and comprehensive analysis it makes of our communication on trade policy.

First of all, I would like to address one unwarranted criticism that this report raises, which is its lack of long-term vision. Parliament will also have seen the two detailed staff working documents which accompany our communication. One contains rigorous economic analysis as well as available long-term forecasts. The other presents an assessment of the Global Europe strategy adopted by the Commission in 2006.

One of the key priorities of our new trade strategy is to ensure stronger and sustainable growth in Europe by engaging with other strategic growth poles in the world: China, Russia, Japan, etc. I am sure that Members will agree with me that this is a legitimate long-term objective and not just a misguided short-term vision.

We also strive to uphold the value of multilateralism and project our European values in the rest of the world, in an ever-increasing complex world where global governance and strong leadership seem to be in short supply. Unless you believe that multilateralism and our strong engagement with strategic partners will not be objectives worth pursuing by 2030 or beyond, then I find it hard to accept the report’s criticism of a lack of long-term vision.

I would also like to stress that the objectives and priorities set in the communication will produce economic effects in the next five to ten years. Today, 36 million jobs in the EU depend on our external trade. These jobs are important today and they will be as important in decades to come. If we are successful in our strategy, and not least if Parliament lends its support, our new trade policy can generate EUR 150 billion every year, and more jobs at the same time. These gains are long-term gains, which can only be reaped if we set a strong foundation for our policy today.

Secondly, I notice that we both share the aim of higher growth and consider that we should harness all the growth potential of external trade. The growth potential of the various trade initiatives that we are considering or pursuing is therefore a major factor allowing us to set priorities among the many negotiations which the Commission can engage in.

Thirdly, the report considers that we are not ambitious enough and that our trade negotiations are too slow. Let us talk again when I return to this House to present concluded free trade agreements in the months and years to come. Of course, while it is important to be ambitious, it is equally important to understand that European trade policy does not solve all global issues and that global agreements are based on mutual obligations and commitments. Imposing obligations on our partners is only feasible if we ourselves are willing to make commitments which they consider equivalent. Otherwise, no deal is possible.

That is why I am pleased to see that we agree on many of the priorities for the EU’s trade policy: multilateralism remains our top trade priority. The EU has a deep commercial and systemic interest in a strong multilateral trading system, and the Commission has played a proactive role in the Doha negotiations throughout 2011, including by developing a solid compromise proposal in the key area of tariffs on industrial goods.

We also consistently called for deliverables for Least Developed Countries and we have an established, excellent track record already. In the coming period, ahead of the December Ministerial Conference, the Commission will continue its work in Geneva with the objective of finding a road map that can take the Doha negotiations out of the present impasse.

The report also states the importance of ensuring that trade works for poverty reduction. This is an issue that is also important for me and is why the Commission will submit to college a communication on trade, investment and development, by the end of November.

Another area of importance mentioned several times in the report is ensuring that we are open but not naive, which I fully agree with. One initiative the Commission is working on is a legislative proposal for an EU instrument that will help secure and increase symmetry in access to public procurement markets in developed countries and large emerging markets. Procurement markets represent a substantial part of national economies, but European businesses cannot always get equal or easy access. The Commission has just ended the public consultation, is reviewing different options and will put forward a proposal within the coming months.

I note that the report acknowledges the achievements of the market access strategy and the importance to continue to work towards keeping markets open. The Commission produced a trade and investment barriers report for the Spring European Council this year, which was shared with the Parliament as well. The report monitors barriers and protectionist measures and sets out a number of key priorities for market access action vis-à-vis our strategic partners, and should become the public reference document and benchmark for our enforcement action at political level. I welcome Parliament’s decision to also prepare a report on this matter.

We are actively pursuing our market access work, in particular, in relation to intellectual property rights in third countries, access to key raw materials for EU industry and securing reliable energy supplies. We will also continue to enforce EU rights and defend the interests of EU businesses of all sizes – anti-dumping or anti-subsidy cases, bilateral discussions on market access barriers, negotiating trade deals and bringing cases before WTO. One example is how we have actively and consistently – and so far successfully – addressed issues relating to access to raw materials in China through the WTO’s dispute settlement system. In keeping with our enlightened openness, we have no qualms about using all instruments to ensure that all countries and companies comply with WTO rules.

Finally, I welcome a reference to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in the report. The Commission is currently finalising a proposal to improve the fund and to extend it to the agricultural sector. This is scheduled for adoption on 5 October 2011.

I see much agreement between this report and the Commission’s own communication on trade policy and look forward to discussing it with Parliament. On the last question from Mr Caspary as to where I am going, I have only one answer: I am going forward.

 
  
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  Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Development.(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Mr Caspary for this report.

Commissioner De Gucht, you said to us here in March 2010: ‘viewed in the long term, trade is intended to help all inhabitants of this world to a better existence’. Unfortunately, in the Commission communication, this approach is not taken quite so clearly. For that reason, too, it was important for the report to deal expressly with the duty to provide a coherent policy. That is particularly important for the area of trade, as trade plays a very significant role in development cooperation. That makes it even harder to understand why it has not been included in the five key areas for policy coherence.

In my opinion, the Committee on International Trade has done a very good job on this report. Many of the suggestions from the Committee on Development have been included, for example, regarding the necessity and essential business friendliness of transparency initiatives, for example, in the raw materials sector. So thank you very much. The communication promised for the end of February will be important from the point of view of development policy.

 
  
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  Bogdan Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.(PL) Madam President, I am speaking today on behalf of Andrzej Grzyb, the rapporteur for the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy on the new trade policy for Europe. Mr Grzyb has drawn special attention to the need for equal access to new markets for enterprises both within and outside the EU, and has stressed, in particular, that EU enterprises should have access to foreign public procurement markets.

The opinion also emphasises the strategic importance of access to global raw materials and energy resources in order to sustain European security. This access should be guaranteed by appropriate international EU agreements. The opening up of markets should ensure that there is no adverse impact on the competitiveness of EU enterprises and should protect them against unfair competition. The solutions adopted should also eliminate pressure on these entities to move their business activities outside of the EU internal market. These issues are of specific importance to small and medium-sized enterprises, which are at particular risk of unfair practices and for which opportunities must be created to enable them to develop and compete in the global market. I am pleased that most of these proposals have been included in Mr Caspary’s report.

 
  
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  Malcolm Harbour, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. – Madam President, I am speaking in this debate first of all as the rapporteur for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, but also on behalf of my group as well.

I welcome this extremely comprehensive – and, I am pleased to say, very well-structured – report by Daniel Caspary, particularly as it incorporates many of the points that my committee made. In particular, I draw attention to the first clause of our report, which you incorporated in full and which in a way encapsulates our engagement with the issue.

The Single Market Act proposal on regulatory convergence is fully endorsed by this report. I think nothing could illustrate better the engagement of my committee with the trade process. We have had the pleasure of welcoming the Commissioner to come and talk to us because he knows our engagement with that. Non-tariff barriers are going to become more and more difficult to deal with and they will be the big areas of action, as the Commissioner already knows.

Our work in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection is dealing with non-tariff barriers within the single market all the time. We do not exist in isolation. That is why we have also recently visited both India and China to get an idea about how the impact of the internal market will work there.

I want to pick up two points in particular because I think they are important, forward-looking points. I would say to Mr Caspary that we welcome inclusion of these but I do not think they have had enough emphasis. The first one is the question of standardisation. We must collaborate more with our trading partners to avoid inventing the new barriers to trade in developing technology areas – things like nanotechnology, smart grids and electric cars. Why should we be inventing new barriers there?

Secondly, innovation, which is linked to that. There is hardly anything in here about the need for encouraging science technology collaboration in innovative products. That is a key imperative.

I conclude with this point: trade for growth – unlocking the benefits of trade – is indispensable to growth in the European economy. I hope that trade issues will be absolutely on the agenda of the forthcoming European Council where we start talking about growth in the future.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi, on behalf of the PPE Group.(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, I should like firstly to congratulate Daniel Caspary, not only for the excellent quality of his report, but also for the open and collaborative method which guided all of the work involved.

The text which we are going to adopt reflects the aspirations and doubts of MEPs, whatever their political group or nationality. In particular, it highlights one of our main concerns, which is the need for a genuine long-term trade strategy. Moreover, I think, Commissioner De Gucht, despite what you just said, that the Commission’s communication of November 2010 is insufficient in this respect.

Indeed, the communication fails to take account of the current context of crisis and not only that of economic crisis, but also that affecting international trade. I am referring here, for example, to the stalemate in the Doha Development Round negotiations and to the emergence of new non-tariff barriers which we are seeing even from our oldest trading partners. Moreover, this communication does not take account of changes in trade policy. The rapporteur states it clearly: ‘Trade policy is not an end in itself.’ Yet, we get the impression that the Commission has yet to integrate this new reality into its work.

I shall cite another example: members of your departments regularly come to the Committee on International Trade to inform us of progress in free trade agreement negotiations. In this context, we question them on the inclusion of social and environmental standards, the importance given to the agricultural chapter, or even on the reciprocity of market access. However, in the evasive answers we receive, these issues are often eluded in favour of purely trade-related chapters.

Today, this bias is no longer viable. Commissioner, I should like to declare my support for Mr Caspary’s request: the Commission must quickly present a clear, global and long-term vision for trade policy.

 
  
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  David Martin, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, let me add my congratulations to Daniel Caspary for his report and for his cooperation. I welcome the report and the Commission’s communication on the future of EU trade policy. As the rapporteur points out, the harsh reality is that the EU share of global trade is declining, and without action it will continue to decline. Thirty-six million jobs in the European Union depend on external trade. Unless we boost our exports, there will be no economic recovery. Job creation and poverty alleviation at home and abroad must be at the core of our global trade strategy.

The report acknowledges, as Mrs Saïfi has just said, that trade is not an end in itself. It can, of course, be a driver for growth, which, in turn, fuels prosperity and rising living standards, but trade is also influenced by, and can influence, human rights standards, labour standards, environmental standards, and they must be key components of our trade policy, not as an alternative to trade liberalisation, but as a key component of it. We need policy coherence between our trade policy, our development policy, our environmental, social and labour policies. The promotion of fair trade is already benefiting around 7.5 million people across 58 developing countries. I hope the Commission will listen to Parliament and continue to promote fair-trade policies.

The key message I want to take out of this report, though, is that, across the groups, we have managed to create a good framework for Europe’s trade policy. The test, however, is not in creating such a framework, the test is in applying that framework to the individual free trade agreements that we are about to debate, the individual legislation such as the GSP legislation that is going to come before this Parliament. Unless we put the contents of this report into action in our individual free trade agreements, the individual pieces of trade legislation, it will end up being a meaningless piece of paper.

 
  
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  Metin Kazak, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(FR) Madam President, I would like to commend Mr Caspary for his excellent report which addresses all aspects of the EU’s trade strategy from a truly liberal point of view. It is extremely important that the EU remains committed to this approach and avoids repeating the errors made in the 1930s, when the economic crisis marked the emergence of aggressive protectionism. The danger of this is even more flagrant considering the difficulties being encountered in concluding the Doha Development Round negotiations.

Ladies and gentlemen, I expect a more exhaustive strategy on trade from the Commission. I should like to know, for example, with which countries we are intending to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement between now and 2020. I would also like to know which non-tariff barriers we are aiming to eliminate between now and 2020 with Russia, the US and China. Furthermore, I would like to know how we are going to address the problems with countries with whom we are bound by a Customs Union.

I would like to see more ambition from the Commission, in order to ensure growth, and also that our principles on development, human rights and the environment are integrated into trade policies. Trade must be used to help poor developing countries and the Least Developed Countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

That is why we must provide the tools required to boost growth, which the European Union absolutely needs, while forging an ambitious and coherent trade policy.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(SV) Madam President, I would like to thank Mr Caspary for addressing all of the issues that are important to us – human rights, labour law, social responsibility, the environment, the climate, consumer protection, in particular, protection of generics, and the right to take non-protectionist measures by way of protection against unfair competition and dumping.

However, both the Commission communication and the report still have an outdated focus on continued liberalisation. The demand for the elimination of export taxes is reminiscent of colonial raw materials policy.

What would we say if the Swedish steel industry was not permitted to work with high-grade steel, but was forced to export all raw materials? No, those countries that want to should be able to retain the added value in their country with the aid of export taxes, which are often also an important source of income.

The same applies with regard to the continued demand for procurement and the liberalisation of services. These countries must be able to decide for themselves whether to benefit from this or whether it is more important to promote certain local industry. Each country must be able to decide this for itself.

I then wonder how this policy – it is even referred to as ‘growth’ – could be compatible with our climate ambitions. Show me an analysis and demonstrate that there has been some decoupling between global trade, growth, emissions and the use of resources.

I would like the Commission to show me these studies before it presents the next outdated growth proposals. You need to have more green economy that is not dependent on growth.

Not all trade is necessary. Half of the world’s trade is in equivalent products. We should trade when it provides significant added value: we should buy those things that we are not good at producing ourselves and export those things that we are good at producing.

 
  
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  Helmut Scholz, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, Mr Caspary, I acknowledge the fact that, as rapporteur, you have shown yourself within your own group to be thoroughly open to the demand for a modern trade policy with this report. Paragraph 5 of your report in particular emphasises the fact, at last, that trade policy requires coherence with a great many other policy areas as well as future viability, and I expressly support your call for a thorough revision of the trade strategy by Commissioner De Gucht.

Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of this report then falls back into the old way of thinking. You want to promote the interests of the EU instead of establishing partnerships. You support an aggressive market access strategy by the Commission, which would weaken the development potential of other countries. You want to use whatever means necessary to secure access to raw materials for European enterprises instead of finally offering fair prices and providing assistance for the development of manufacturing industries.

We will vote against this old way of thinking, because the consequence of continuing with this old strategy will, above all, be the extension of the spiral of poverty in most parts of the world. That is short-sighted, also because it will ultimately harm Europe.

How do you actually imagine it will end if we pursue competition for the raw materials of the world by aggressive means? Where will we be in 2050? Will all of the states in the world then have a raw materials management strategy like that of Norway? Will it have been possible to develop manufacturing industries? Will Europe have helped them to do this in an environmentally sound way and to create respectable jobs? Europe’s future lies in a smart trade policy that aims to strengthen its partners and which recognises that combating poverty is a prerequisite for its own survival.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, this is a snapshot of a disaster: it talks about a strategy for Europe, but we see no strategy. It is a snapshot of a hopeless disaster.

Thank you for the report, which offers no way out at all. Somebody will have to explain to me what the Commission’s farsightedness entails. The details put forward here actually portray a debacle of what Europe is not. The prevailing interests are those of certain Northern European countries that want to liberalise everything and trade, regardless of social dumping and the imbalances we have with our so-called partners, but without any interest or protection for our small and medium-sized enterprises. It is essentially British and German interests that are being defended both by the Commission and by the report.

I smile when I see in the report that the Member States and the Commission are being urged to communicate better, since the people of the European Union are sick to death of globalisation because of the loss of productivity. If, in your view, we can solve things by communicating better, then we really have not understood where to go.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Madam President, the Caspary report rightly points out that free trade is not an end in itself, that there are economic, social, environmental and moral interests which must be defended, and that perhaps globalisation is not as wonderful as the Commission continues to believe.

The problem is that the Caspary report is founded on a belief that this globalisation is inescapable and, inevitably, in a belief in the virtues of global free trade, slightly improved at the fringes by some regulation or other. Yet, this system, as it has been operating for almost 60 years, has proven to be deeply unfair and destructive. It must therefore be changed. Widespread free movement of capital, goods, services and people has led to mass unemployment, relocalisation, deindustrialisation, pressure on wages, frenzied speculation and ultimately, whether you like it or not, to the unprecedented global crisis which we are experiencing today.

We will not, in the near future, be competitive in relation to countries which use and abuse their comparative advantages, which do not respect their international commitments, and which practise dumping and counterfeiting. The global trade war is inequitable; we must restore the necessary protection.

 
  
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  Kader Arif (S&D).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, aside from the work which Mr Caspary has done, I find that the new trade strategy proposed by the Commission does not address the challenges which Europe has to face in light of the financial, economic, social, environmental and food crises we are experiencing, nor does it address the expectations of our fellow citizens who are calling for stronger regulation and for a new sustainable growth and development model for the planet. Unfortunately, however, this does not or no longer comes as a surprise. Faced with these calls for new regulation and new solidarity, the Union must establish a new doctrine for an alternative trade policy. If Europe does not advocate a fairer form of trade that is founded on the values of justice and that generates quality employment in both Europe and the rest of the world, who will?

Solely promoting services is not a policy. We need to preserve strong industrial and agricultural sectors through an employment-generating industrial policy and an updated CAP. The inclusion in all of our free trade agreements of social and environmental standards, and stringent human rights rules which guarantee decent working conditions, is fundamental.

Europe must lead the way in balancing trade openness with room for public intervention and the legitimate protection of various economic sectors both in Europe and in its partner countries – a fair trade policy for fair trade should be the aim.

 
  
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  Franziska Keller (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, we Greens deeply regret that the revised trade strategy marks a clear shift away from multilateral trade talks towards new bilateral trade agreements. We are concerned that the Commission is seeking liberalisation commitments from developing countries on services, intellectual property and the so-called ‘Singapore issues’ that go well beyond what they would agree to in multilateral fora such as the WTO.

The introduction of the reciprocity principle regarding public procurement can be extremely harmful for developing countries as it will, among other things, hamper the development of infant industries and processing. I therefore ask the Commission to define its trade strategy in full respect of the special and differential treatment granted to developing countries by the WTO. Governments and parliaments must be able to regulate investment, both to discriminate in favour of investors that support their country’s development, and to ensure that obligations and duties fall on all investors, including foreign investors.

 
  
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  Laurence J.A.J. Stassen (NI) . – (NL) Madam President, when reading the list of objectives in this report, you could almost forget that it is supposed to be about trade policy. From climate policy to employment law, Europe is trying to push a socialist agenda from all sides. Such things have no place in a report on trade policy.

If Europe is going into the negotiations with this shopping list, then it will be putting paid to any chances of success from the outset. Do you really think that developing countries are crying out for European social standards and climate objectives? Surely, these countries have other things on their minds.

Do you know what would really help these countries? Being able to freely export their agricultural products to Europe. Europe has the audacity to impose all kinds of demands, whilst protecting its own agricultural sector with subsidies which cost billions. That is hypocritical and is costing us loads of money. If the European Union is attempting to conclude trade agreements on the basis of these conditions, it will fail.

 
  
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  Gianluca Susta (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the future of our trade policy coincides with the future of European competitiveness itself.

For years, we have justifiably pursued a policy of opening up our market – and perhaps we have been more generous to others than to ourselves – but the slowdown in the Doha Round, the resurgence of protectionist measures by several partners, including strategic ones, and the enterprise shown by emerging countries must lead us to reconsider the way in which we Europeans want to relate to the world.

In this context, words like ‘reciprocity’ and ‘protecting European interests’ must become the litmus test to show whether what we are doing is right. We have to play a leading role and not a supporting one in seeking to conclude the Doha Round with a well-balanced global agreement, which is an essential condition for arriving at a free-trade agreement that really opens up the markets and, above all, creates equal opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Trade policy and economic governance go hand in hand in this world, and we are therefore calling for a new financial system and a new monetary and exchange rate policy, as well as a redefinition of trade protection measures.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, the statistics quoted by Mr Caspary are rather frightening – from 25% of GDP in 2000, now the European Union will have only 18% by 2020, from 19% of world exports in 1999 to 17% of world exports in 2009, and yet the Union’s population is due to increase 5% by 2035 – all pointing to a poorer, and therefore less influential, European Union.

It is time for action, and aggressive action at that. I would note that two committees – the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Development – both point to the need to reduce the existing trade deficit with China and have increased access to this expanding market. That is certainly an area we need to address and address fairly quickly. Our FTAs, such as the one we have with Korea, also need to be expanded.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D).(RO) Madam President, unstable prices for food products and goods have become a major issue, exacerbating the state of deprivation of millions of people, and jeopardise the operation of the global financial system. Trade imbalances and speculative activities are the source of this volatility, and climate change will continue to make it worse. A European strategy on trade policy must deal with the key role that the European Union needs to assume as part of the multilateral trade system. This long-term strategy must have precise goals, take into account the development of the international trade system and highlight aspects which are compatible with EU principles, such as the importance of making generic medicines available to the poorest or the need to include, as a matter of course, fair trade, human rights and social and environmental standards in every trade agreement.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, the fact that the European Union generated 25% of global GDP at the time when the Lisbon strategy was implemented in 2000, but is expected to have a share of just 18% in 2020, is clearly a cause for serious reflection. A sober assessment of the current situation, taking account of the reality of today’s global economy, is acutely necessary in order to draw up resolute short, medium and long-term strategies for the revival of the EU economy and its competitiveness.

I firmly believe that the concluding of trade agreements and the opening up of the European market should not take place at the expense of the safety of EU consumers and the values on which the EU is based. I would therefore like to say again that all free trade agreements should include provisions on respect for fundamental human rights and certain minimal environmental and social standards.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the recitals of this report quote data that clearly show that the European Union has lost a large share of world productivity over the last 10 years to the so-called emerging powers, China and India in particular.

Paragraph 11 in the report seems to suggest, however, that everything comes down to a mere problem of communication. On the contrary, the crisis in Europe is real and certainly not a problem of communication. It is due to the fact that the European Union has not taken the trouble to protect our businesses and workers, but has allowed other countries, especially those in Asia, to take advantage of our open markets without giving anything in exchange.

I do not want to resign myself to seeing our economic fabric disappear. If opportunities present themselves in international trade, it is only right to take them, but not if it means having to sell off our history and traditions.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Madam President, the Commission’s communication on trade is essentially a continuation of the Global Europe strategy of 2006. Unfortunately, the strategy also results from the frustration of European businesses over the dead-end street which the Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation negotiations ended up in.

Since things have gone wrong at the multilateral level, the EU is trying to engage in bilateral agreements, particularly with countries that have rapidly growing economies. This form of EU trade policy is ultra-liberal, however, focusing almost exclusively on economic development and economic motivations. All other non-trade aspects such as sustainable development, social cohesion, human rights and the like are sidelined. These aspects should be a priority, however, cutting across all EU policies, including trade policy. Unfortunately, it is not only outside the Union that this does not apply. An attempt to undermine social and environmental standards is also under way inside the Union.

I would therefore like to call on the Commission not to succumb to pressure, and to draw up a strategy that will genuinely respect our European values.

 
  
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  Karel De Gucht, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, unfortunately, I will have to be very brief. I would very much like to go into the arguments that have been put forward, but I will just give one overall reply, taking up the idea that was put forward by David Martin. You have to see in practice what all these big ideas mean.

Let me begin with development. Everybody is saying that a development strategy should be part of our trade strategy. Whatever you may think about human rights in China – that is quite a different chapter – it is very difficult to deny that their development over the last three decades has contributed largely to remedy the shortage of jobs and livelihoods in that country and has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

On the non-tariff measures, in recent days, we have been discussing the last phase of Russia’s entry into the WTO. This concerns non-tariff free barriers. and the discussion on cars. I can assure you that this is a very tough discussion. It is not about principles but about money, cars, parts and components, jobs, and delocalisation.

You speak about sustainable development. I am very much in favour of that and we make sure that in every free trade agreement which we conclude, this sustainable development chapter is included. But I can assure you that when you discuss this with India, first of all, you have to spend quite a long time discussing whether or not they will agree that such a chapter is in the agreement and then you still have to start discussing the content of such a chapter. They have completely different ideas about this which can be explained by a lot of reasons, development, culture, etc.

Raw materials are a very important example, as has been said here, but we are doing something about it. We are on the case on raw materials with China and you can see that this is already influencing the quota on rare earth materials. It is also having an impact on the prices, as prices of rare-earth materials are going down. There are also a lot of initiatives in Europe and elsewhere in the developed world to use those materials less, thus also contributing to the protection of the environment.

They were just a couple of examples. Unfortunately, I cannot develop this further because I must keep to the time.

 
  
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  Daniel Caspary, rapporteur.(DE) Madam President, thank you very much for today’s debate. We have all once again obtained a few insights into the thoughts of our fellow Members. Today, I have learnt, for example, that not even the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance has escaped globalisation if even Ms Keller is speaking in English rather than German in plenary.

I thank the Non-attached Members for their fundamental opposition. Mr Gollnisch was fundamentally opposed to the report because it is too liberal, Ms Stassen was fundamentally opposed to it because we are too protectionist; however I have not seen a single amendment from either of them in committee. I think that is a shame, because all of us in Europe need less empty rhetoric in plenary and more constructive work in the committees. Our committee, in particular, is one of the most constructive and collegial committees that I know in the European Parliament.

I would like specifically to thank the advisory committees for their excellent input, and I would also like to offer my sincere thanks to my fellow Members for their contributions to the debate. I think that the report and today’s debate will have given the Commission a clear idea of the tasks it needs to do. I would be very grateful if we could continue the debate at another opportunity.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 12.30.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, we tabled 41 amendments in committee, so it is a false claim that the Greens did not table any amendments and try to influence the outcome.

 
  
  

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing.(DE) First of all, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Caspary, on his excellent report. He covers the important areas that are essential for a revised trade strategy for the European Union and points out the approaches that need to be taken in order for Europe to remain competitive at international level in the future. I would like to address three issues in particular here. The first is the clear commitment of the European Parliament to a multilateral trading system that establishes uniform rules and standards. We need a common trading framework on which we also all need to continue to work and which we must also continue to develop together. Therefore, I would once again call for the Doha Development Agenda to be brought to a conclusion that is acceptable to everyone. Secondly, Europe is facing strong competition from new economic powers that, over the next few years, will continue to develop their position. Therefore, we must speed up the removal of unjustified barriers to trade, particularly where our most important partners, the US, China, Russia, Japan and India, are concerned. I would like to highlight the demand that I made, which received majority support in the European Parliament: a sustainability chapter must be included in any trade agreement between the EU and third countries, covering the production and processing of goods. In the event that this is not complied with, trade with these third countries should be stopped. Ensuring food quality as well as hormone-free food must have top priority in the interests of our citizens.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Although the European economy is the largest in the world, with the EU being the main exporter, as well as the main provider and beneficiary of direct foreign investments, it is estimated that 90% of global growth will be generated outside Europe by 2015. In the coming years, the European Union must capitalise, without fail, on the opportunities provided by high levels of growth outside the EU. In this regard, I would like to mention public procurement, as this is an area where foreign markets are largely closed to EU companies. Accounting, on average, for more than 10% of these countries’ GDP, public procurement contracts offer considerable commercial opportunities in the sectors where EU industry is highly competitive. Given that our market is already wide open, I think that the clear priority for establishing reciprocal access is not to close European markets, but to open up foreign public procurement markets. Therefore, I strongly urge the EU to step up its efforts to facilitate access for European companies to public procurement contracts outside the EU and to eliminate discriminatory practices.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing. (PL) Global trade brings benefits to all involved. It is my opinion, therefore, that we should proceed towards the elimination of barriers and restrictions. However, the necessity to retain a balance of benefits between participating parties is a limiting factor in such liberalisation. Trade policy has to fulfil certain criteria, particularly in terms of the requirement for imported goods to comply with European safety standards, as well as in terms of social issues, manufacturing conditions and the environmental impact of manufacturing, as these are the basis for maintaining competitiveness. It is especially important in the context of the costs that must be borne by European manufacturers to comply with environmental standards and maintain working conditions and levels of pay. Trade strategy is a significant element of a broader development strategy. It gains further importance in the context of the struggle to cope with the economic crisis. Therefore, trade conditions established by the World Trade Organisation need to promote equality in trade levels and capacity. I would also like to highlight the critical issue of unity and solidarity within the EU in terms of foreign trade. There are numerous examples of our partners dividing the Union by offering preferential conditions for selected Member States. The single market requires uniformity in foreign trade.

 
  
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  Monika Smolková (S&D), in writing. (SK) The EU 2020 strategy has ambitious and measurable objectives, and the new trade policy for Europe is an essential component of the strategy. A number of factors are important for trade, and have an effect on it. As an example, I could mention adequate protection for intellectual property, particularly trademarks. Counterfeiting and the importing of counterfeit products lead to job losses, undermine innovation and reduce the competitiveness of the EU, and also involve safety risks in relation to consumer products. Another important factor is support for job creation, according the same rights and tax advantages to domestic investors as to foreign investors, expanding free and fair trade in agricultural products, and the sharing of innovations and technologies not only between Member States, but also within the framework of trade relations with superpowers such as China, Russia, the US and Japan.

 
  
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  Indrek Tarand (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I think that the proposed new trade policy for Europe under the 2020 strategy is good. Have we not noticed, however, that Russia will be governed for the next 12 years by President Putin, who will be ‘elected’ in 2012? And that is why I do not think that the recent decision by the French President to sell a Mistral-class warship to Russia was good; I believe that it is not wise to sell such a warship to Russia, which attacked Georgia under the premiership of Mr Putin. Ceterum censeo, this deal can still be recalled!

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: EDWARD McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 
Last updated: 5 January 2012Legal notice