Yesterday, 18 February, the European Commission defined its trade strategy for the coming years. Reflecting the concept of open strategic autonomy, it builds on the openness of the EU to contribute to economic recovery through support for green and digital transformations, as well as a renewed focus on strengthening multilateralism and reforming the rules of global trade to ensure that they are fair and sustainable. Where necessary, the EU will take a more assertive stance in defending its interests and values, including through new instruments.
By addressing one of the greatest challenges of our time and responding to the expectations of its citizens, the Commission is putting sustainability at the heart of its new trade strategy, supporting the fundamental transformation of its economy into a climate neutral one. The strategy includes several key actions focusing on the implementation of stronger global trade rules and on the contribution to the EU’s economic recovery.
In response to the current challenges, the strategy gives priority to a major reform of the World Trade Organisation, including global commitments on trade and climate, new rules for digital trade, strengthened rules to address distortions of competition and the restoration of its binding dispute settlement system.
The new strategy will strengthen trade’s ability to support digital and climate transitions. Firstly, by contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the European Green Deal. Secondly, by removing unjustified trade barriers in the digital economy to reap the benefits of digital technologies in commerce. The EU will be able to shape global change in a more suitable way by strengthening its alliances, such as the transatlantic partnership, together with focusing greater attention to its neighbours and Africa.
At the same time, the EU will take a tougher and more assertive approach towards the implementation and enforcement of its trade agreements, combating unfair trade and addressing sustainability concerns. The EU is stepping up its efforts to ensure that its agreements bring the negotiated benefits to its workers, farmers and citizens.
This strategy is based on a broad and inclusive public consultation, which includes more than 400 contributions from a wide range of stakeholders, public events in almost all Member States and a close engagement with the European Parliament, EU governments, businesses, civil society and the public.