Written answers

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

EU Issues

Emer Higgins (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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188. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if Ireland has made a submission to the EU trade policy review; if so, the issues he is prioritising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43680/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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EU Trade Policy comes under the EU's Common Commercial Policy and is an EU competence under the Treaties. In that regard, on 16 June 2020 the European Commission launched a major review of the Union's trade policy, including a public consultation seeking input from the European Parliament, Member States, stakeholders and civil society. The Commission's aim is to build a consensus around a medium-term direction for EU trade policy, responding to a variety of new global challenges and taking into account the lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis.

There are two key objectives driving the review process. Firstly, to assess how trade policy can contribute to a swift and sustainable socio-economic recovery, reinforcing competitiveness in the post-Covid 19 environment, addressing the challenges the EU will face, and helping to promote our values and standards. Secondly, to see how trade policy can help build a stronger EU based on reaping the benefits of openness for our businesses, workers and consumers, while protecting them from unfair practices and building up EU resilience to be better equipped for future challenges.

The Trade Policy Review process is based on broad consultations with stakeholders, including through public debates undertaken across the EU Member States, seeking input from industry, civil society and other stakeholders through written submissions. The Commission had originally set a deadline of 15 September for the public consultation on the Trade Policy Review, however, this was subsequently extended by a further two months until 15 November 2020.

My Department contacted a wide range of stakeholders to make them aware of the Commission’s consultation and encouraged them to engage as part of developing and shaping Ireland’s engagement with the European Commission on this important review.

The Trade Policy Review was part of my discussions with fellow EU Trade Ministers at the September Informal Trade Council meeting in Berlin and was discussed again at the Formal Trade Council on 9 November 2020. We formally submitted our views on the Review on 24 November 2020. Although Member State submissions are confidential, I can say that many of the points we made centred on the need for our Trade Policy to focus on:

- economic growth and development and good jobs;

- support for SME internationalisation;

- ensuring the correct balance in defending EU firms against illegitimate practices by other;

- the lead role the EU can play in reforming the WTO;

- the important role of digitalisation in shaping the future of Trade; and

- the Trade Policy nexus with other EU policies.

We are anticipating that the EU would seek to adopt the new Trade Policy in the first quarter of next year.

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