EU free trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand

Briefing 15-02-2018

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposals, submitted on 13 September 2017 and referred to Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA). For the Commission, the proposals are a step towards fulfilment of the key criteria for the EU's trade relations with third countries, namely the criteria of effectiveness, transparency, and the safeguarding of the European social and regulatory model as underlined in the European Commission's 'Trade for all' communication. One of the objectives of the Commission's 2017 work programme was to open negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. Both countries are important trade partners for the EU and vice versa. In 2015, total trade in commercial services amounted to €4.3 billion between the EU and New Zealand, and €21.9 billion between the EU and Australia. In recent years, the EU has concluded bilateral agreements containing trade-related arrangements. Since 2015, the Commission has been preparing the ground for a free trade agreement (FTA) with both countries. On 26 October 2017 the European Parliament adopted two resolutions in which it called on the Council to authorise the Commission to start negotiations for trade and investment agreements with Australia and with New Zealand. The Parliament called on the Commission to outline the general future architecture of these trade agreements as rapidly as possible. The Parliament also stressed that the future FTAs 'must lead to improved market access and trade facilitation on the ground, create decent jobs, ensure gender equality for the benefit of the citizens on both sides, encourage sustainable development, uphold EU standards, safeguard services of general interest, and respect democratic procedures while boosting EU export opportunities'. The Commission conducted one impact assessment for the two proposals for free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand and its conclusions are considered as valid for the EU's subsequent negotiations with both countries.