Spring til indhold

Handels- og investeringsministerens præsentation i Europa-Parlamentets Handelsudvalg (INTA) den 25. januar

Danish Minister for Trade and Investment Ms. Pia Olsen Dyhr’s Speech to the INTA Committee in the European Parliament

Thank you for inviting me to come to your Committee and to Chairman Professor Moreira for welcoming me. It is a pleasure to be here. I know that INTA is probably the Committee, where the workload per member is the heaviest.

Let me say first that I welcome the democratization of trade policy introduced with the Lisbon Treaty, where you in Parliament and the Member States through the Council now act as co-legislators and where you give your consent to Free Trade Agreements. The EU gets stronger through a more solid democratic basis. Together, we can achieve important results!

As chair of the Council on trade issues I look forward to a constructive, effective and result-oriented cooperation with you. I anticipate that we will move the agenda forward on the legislative side as well as regarding trade agreements, during the coming six months. In this process I look forward to learn from you – to pick your brains - and to draw on your experience.

The current crisis makes it clear that the citizens of Europe expect us to move forward. I heard that the newly elected President of the European Parliament emphasized - in his first speech in the Plenary Assembly - that today we face a situation, where it is uncertain whether we will be able to ensure a better life for our children than we have had. That was well-phrased. And it points, in a nutshell, to what politics is all about: Working to ensure a better life for our citizens and for future generations. That is also why sustainability and green growth should be part of our perspective. I will return to that.

The headline for the Danish EU-Presidency is “Europe at Work”. During the next six months, it is our firm ambition to bring EU a step closer to a solution to the current economic crisis. Creating growth and jobs in Europe is our overall objective in the trade policy field.  However, equally important, we will emphasize that global trade should be free and fair, not forgetting the needs of the developing countries. Finally, we will bring back the important link between trade and climate change to the EU’s agenda.

Let me now be more concrete and briefly take you through our priorities. First, I will go through the ones directly relating to growth and jobs in Europe. Secondly, I will move on to our plans in trade and development. Thirdly, I will present my ideas for a new look at trade and climate change. Finally, I will mention the additional important legal acts and agreements on our common agenda.

When giving attention to growh and jobs in Europe, it is evident that we should make it a priority to get better market access to the BRIC countries. With their continued strong growth rates these markets are vital for European exports.

The BRIC is not a homogenous group. Therefore the approach to each country varies: I hope we will see substantial progress on the FTA negotiations with India. The upcoming summit with India on 10 February should provide political progress in key areas of an FTA. It would be a great step forward.

While waiting for Russian ratification of the WTO membership, we should not let this important file rest. We must press ahead in order to include commitments on trade, investment and energy in the New Agreement.

Regarding Brazil, I expect that we will approach the next exchange of offers in the EU-Mercosur FTA negotiations towards the end of our Presidency. I am aware that this negotiation in particular contains not only offensive but also defensive interests for the EU.

Last but not least, it is our strong ambition that the EU and China agree on launching negotiations on an investment agreement during the Danish Presidency, including market access.

In addition to our focus on the BRIC, we want to make it a priority to pave the way to launching negotiations with Japan for an FTA. There is an enormous economic potential for the EU in an FTA with Japan. We must also keep in mind the wider strategic implications of such an agreement for the EU’s overall relations with Japan. Japan being the world’s third largest national economy. However, we need to see - as one thing - firm commitment from the Japanese government with regard to the future handling of the many non-tariff barriers that stand in the way for stronger trade relations.

We will also give priority to improving Economic relations with our neighbours – in the East and in the South. The trade relations with our neighbours touches on our role as an important international actor. A main tool in these relations is the negotiation of deep and comprehensive free trade agreements, in short: DCFTA’s. My colleague, the Danish Minister for European Affairs - being responsible for trade policy relations with EU’s neighbours  - is prepared to engage in these issues.

Focus is now on the negotiations which are just about to begin on DCFTAs with Moldova and Georgia. We hope that these two countries can become models for our neighbourhood policy and show that it will work also for others.  Unfortunately, the political developments in Ukraine are disappointing. A DCFTA is ready in principle, but moving ahead is difficult in the current situation.

Turning now to our Southern neighbours: In March 2011 the European Council declared that the EU should support the reform processes in the Southern neighbours responding to the Arab Spring. It is vital that we respond to this historic opportunity in concrete terms. We can make important steps in liberalizing trade, thereby supporting economic growth and political stability.

The Council agreed in December last year to give the Commission negotiating directives to begin negotiations with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia on DCFTA’s. We acknowledge that it will be a long process. It will require political flexibility on both sides to give the necessary concessions. It will be important to keep the sensitivities of our Southern European member states in mind.

However, if the project is to succeed – and I very much hope it will – it is extremely important that the Union can maintain its credibility. Therefore, I strongly urge the Parliament to give its consent to the additional EU Morocco agreement on trade in agricultural products. If the Parliament rejects this agreement, bilateral relations with Morocco will suffer a major setback. Furthermore, we risk that relations with the other countries will also suffer.

For the Danish EU Presidency, it will also be a priority to do what we can to promote the WTO and the Doha round. This is the single most important agreement, which in itself could make a substantial contribution both to growth and employment in Europe and globally. The WTO is a vital tool for integrating the poorest countries into the global economy. And particularly we should strive for advancing issues beneficial to Least Developing Countries. Ideally future steps should also involve further agreements on issues such as climate friendly goods. Green trade liberalisation should be tested as one possible area, where movement could be obtained in the WTO after the 8th ministerial conference.

Perhaps it is a novelty that we do not mention the promotion of the WTO and Doha at first. Definitely, this does not imply that we will not make a strong effort. We must do what we can for all the reasons mentioned, but still we must also recognize that our resources must be put to use, where they can make a difference for the EU’s trade policy. 

The investment area in general is another area of major importance for growth and jobs in Europe. As a new area of common EU competence, it is essential that we work together to implement a new investment policy for the EU.  I have instructed my staff to give their full commitment to finalizing the trilogue on the Grandfathering regulation with the Parliament. More than two years since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, we have a still stronger obligation to work together and find the common ground. I am sure, we can all agree, that there is also a still growing need to get legal certainty for our investors. We certainly look forward to a fruitful and constructive dialogue with both INTA and the Commission.

Our overall ambition regarding growth and employment through trade also touches upon the Transatlantic economic relations. The US is the EU’s most important economic partner and we must continue promoting together the freest possible transatlantic flow of ideas, products and services. At the latest EU-US Summit in November 2011 this intention was confirmed and the Danish Presidency will put emphasis on exploring opportunities to enlarge co-operation on this basis - looking at new interesting area of the cooperation like e-mobility and e-health.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my intervention, it is important – as we deal with the crisis – that the EU does not forget the importance of looking beyond our shores. Europe must never forget its responsibility for ensuring fairness in global trade.

The EU must therefore continue to have a strong focus on trade and development and help developing countries - especially the poorest and most vulnerable ones - to become better integrated into the world economy with the objective of creating sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction.

Within the EU it is of paramount importance that the trade and development policies are mutually reinforcing and complement each other. Trade is an important and integral part of development. It contributes to the development of new markets and sustainable economic growth, while at the same time trade promotes peace, security and more open societies.

The Danish EU Presidency will focus on the Commission’s upcoming communication on “Trade and Investment for Development” and the negotiations on a new GSP regulation. The final design of these two important instruments will be an important signal to the rest of the world regarding EU’s continues role within Trade and Development.

The communication will be important in establishing the right priorities and the approach to trade and development for the next decade. We therefore also intend to adopt Council conclusions in Spring.

The EU’s GSP scheme plays an important role as the EU’s primary trade instrument to support developing countries. The review is an opportunity to improve the scheme further and show the EU’s continued leadership in trade and development. Therefore, the Danish Presidency looks very much forward to a close cooperation with INTA and we will do our outmost to promote this important file together with you.    

Allow me now as promised to direct your attention to the important area of climate change and how trade can make a contribution. A topic very close to my heart. Green growth is a major theme across the council formations during the Danish EU Presidency. It is of no less prominence in trade.

Climate change calls for new solutions so that we can globally pool our products, services and know-how together, enabling increased use of sustainable energy sources worldwide. Increased trade of green goods is key to this process. Moreover, we strongly believe that this would actually also contribute to growth and employment in the European Union.

Previous discussions on trade liberalization in the DDA context were stalled due to conflict between industrialized countries and emerging economies. The latter are somewhat suspicious towards developed countries’ agenda in this context.

We aim to start consideration of new initiatives on how to liberalise trade in green products. Multi-track solutions to be considered are: How to include trade liberalisation in climate friendly goods in bilateral agreements (FTAs), on the multilateral agenda (DDA) and – possibly – within plurilateral agreements. We should also consider other possibilities to promote trade liberalisation, including the proposal from the Geneva based think tank ICTSD on a Sustainable Trade Agreement. Any initiative will have to comply fully with WTO rules. It is important to include developing countries in this context, and to assist them in their process towards a greener economy. I would appreciate input from Members of this Committee as to how they view the possibilities and the options.

Finally, before concluding, I will go very briefly through some of the additional important legal acts and trade agreements on our common agenda.

We expect that the European-Parliament will have its final say on ACTA in the course of the Danish Presidency. ACTA is an important agreement in tackling the global problem of counterfeit goods. It provides a clear added value compared to the existing international enforcement arrangements of Intellectual Property Rights. And consequently I do hope that you and Parliament as such will back the agreement.  
On our common agenda, we also have the two Omnibus proposals, which aims to adapt EU trade policy regulations to the changes inherent in the Lisbon Treaty. In the coming months the Danish Presidency expects to obtain a mandate from the Council to initiate the trialogue. We believe the prospects are good for successfully concluding with you members of Parliament on the Omnibus I-file, and we want to move the Omnibus II-file as much forward as possible in a spirit of cooperation.

The proposal for compulsory Origin Marking on certain imported products has been on the table for some years. As you are fully aware, there has been a “dead-lock” in the Council for long. However, the European Parliament’s overwhelming support for the Commission proposal regarding an origin marking regulation has sparked renewed discussions in the Council. The Danish Presidency will start assessing possibilities for a voluntary system.

The multiparty trade agreement with Colombia and Peru is important for all parties in the current global economic situation. We hope to finish the work in the Council by spring. The agreement could possibly enhance the positive developments in human rights that we have seen over the last couple of years in Colombia.   

The Danish Presidency shares the concern of the European Parliament about human rights violations and politically motivated assassinations. EU should continue to follow the situation closely. The human rights suspension clause and the mechanisms of the sustainable development chapter of the FTA were pivotal for the Council in negotiating this agreement. They should not be underestimated as tools of influence. I look forward to follow discussions in the Parliament, and to our cooperation.

Finally, I just want to mention the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Canada and the FTA with Singapore, where the Danish Presidency has high hopes for final agreement on the negotiations. And we aim at signature of the EU-Central America Agreement during our Presidency.

As you can see we have much work ahead of us – even additionally on a range of files that I did not have enough time to cover today. So let us pull up the sleeves and exercise “Europe at work”. I do - as chair of the Council - look very much forward to working with you in the coming six month.

Thank you for your attention.