EU heads down under for trade

The European Commission has launched a package of proposals on trade and investment.

In its Communication A Balanced and Progressive Trade Policy to Harness Globalisation, the Commission focuses on four key issues: new trade deals, foreign direct investment (FDI), resolving investment disputes and the transparency of trade policy.

The EU does not currently have a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with either Australia or New Zealand and that, the Commission argues, leaves EU businesses with comparably less favourable conditions to access those two markets.

It therefore recommends that the EU Council should formally authorise the opening of negotiations aimed at securing trade deals with both antipodean countries. The FTAs should, it says, be modelled on recent agreements negotiated with Canada, Vietnam and Singapore.

With reference to FDI, the Commission proposes that a European framework to screen such investment should be established to ensure that it remains a major source of growth in the EU while simultaneously protecting the Union’s essential interests.

A multilateral court for the settlement of investment disputes should also be created, the Commission advises, in order to ensure a more transparent, coherent and fair approach to deal with company complaints under investment protection agreements.

Also on the theme of transparency, the Commission wants an advisory group on EU trade agreements to be set up to help when it comes to obtaining the views of bodies such as employers’ organisations and consumer groups.

In a spirit of openness and transparency, the Commission has said that it will, with immediate effect, publish all its recommendations on negotiating mandates for trade agreements.

Documents will be sent to all national Parliaments as well as being made available to the general public.

To see the Commission’s Communication and associated documentation, visit the EC Trade website.

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