Since the release of the ‘Global Europe’ strategy and the end of the European moratorium on bilateral trade negotiations in 2006, policy-makers in Brussels have significantly expanded and diversified the EU external trade negotiation portfolio. Adding to the longstanding efforts to advance EU foreign policy objectives through the negotiation of trade agreements with developing countries, the Commission, in 2010, declared that ‘the latest generation of competitiveness driven Free Trade Agreements is precisely inspired by the objective of unleashing the economic potential of the world’s important growth markets to EU trade and investment’. The long list of bilateral and pluri-lateral negotiation initiatives is evidence of the new strategic orientation.
While the underlying rationale for the negotiation of EU trade and investment accords is now more grounded in commercial motives, many of the agreements that the EU is negotiating are motivated by economic development objectives – most notably the Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP countries. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009 has, with the empowerment of the European Parliament on trade and investment policy matters, strengthened the political dimension of EU Common Commercial Policy formulation and increased the prominence of its non-commercial aspects, such as the promotion of human rights, sustainable development, ‘fair trade’, democratic accountability, and transparency.
The new institutional framework has now been in place for 5 years, but the modalities of EU inter-institutional cooperation and the development of a coherent normative orientation of EU trade and investment policy remain work in progress and subject to a great deal of public debate.
This one-day policy seminar will revisit and reflect on the key institutional and substantive achievements made during the first five years of EU Common Commercial Policy under the Lisbon rules – with a particular focus on the role and contributions of the European Parliament; the institutional role that Parliament should ideally take vis-à-vis the Commission and the Council, both in light of constitutional provisions and capacity constraints; and examine key challenges that EU institutions will confront in the trade area in the coming years and the policy responses that are required to achieve both commercial and non-economic EU trade and investment policy objectives.
ECDPM’s Kathleen Van Hove will make a presentation to this policy seminar.