EU urges for major WTO reform, committed to green and digital makeover

Europe will adopt a tougher approach in fighting unfair practices and addressing sustainability concerns

Photo: EU Valdis Dombrovskis.

A major reform of the World Trade Organization, including global commitments on trade and climate, new rules for digital trade, reinforced rules to tackle competitive distortions, and restoring its system for binding dispute settlement, is at the core of the EU trade strategy for the coming years.

Set out by the Commission on Thursday, the strategy elaborates on the concept of open strategic autonomy. It builds on the EU's openness to contribute to the economic recovery through support for the green and digital transformations, as well as a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming global trade rules to ensure that they are fair and sustainable.

The EU will take a more assertive stance in defending its interests and values, including through new tools.

Europe is rethinking the role of trade, and trade policy, in a world characterised by more geopolitical conflict and economic upheaval, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, told media during his press conference, saying that three key words that define this strategy: open, sustainable and assertive.

He accented on the need of open trade more than ever to support our recovery from Covid-19, as in Europe already, 35 million high-quality jobs depend on trade. The EU has its strong network of 46 trade agreement with 78 partners.

EVP Dombrovskis underlined that 85% of global growth will take place outside Europe in the next decade. “The EU has a substantial trade surplus, and by turning inward, we will only make our economic outlook worse. The right answer to ensure Europe’s prosperity is to keep trading with our global partners.”

While we aim to ratify agreements and complete ongoing negotiations, we will put a much stronger focus on extracting maximum value from existing deals, EVP Dombrovskis pointed out, noting that this will help EU’s companies, in particular our SMEs, to find new opportunities, and speed up their recovery.

He said as well that trade policy must fully support the green and digital transformations of EU economy and lead global efforts to reform the WTO.

It should also give us the tools to defend ourselves when we face unfair trade practices and we are pursuing a course that is open, strategic and assertive, emphasising the EU's ability to make its own choices and shape the world around it through leadership and engagement, reflecting our strategic interests and values, EVP Dombrovskis stressed.

In addition to strengthening trade capacity in support of digital and climate transitions, the EU wants to remove unjustified trade barriers in the digital economy in order to reap the benefits of digital technologies in trade. The EU will work to reinforce its alliances, as the transatlantic partnership, together with a stronger focus on neighboring countries and Africa, will allow the EU to better shape global change

It will adopt a tougher, more assertive approach towards the implementation and enforcement of its trade agreements, fighting unfair trade and addressing sustainability concerns and wants to ensure that its agreements deliver the negotiated benefits for its workers, farmers and citizens.



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