ICOS attended a Civil Dialogue meeting with new EU Director General for Trade, Sabine Weyand on July 9, in which the EU’s trade ambitions for the next 5 years were laid out.
Having spent the last 5 years focused on the negotiation and completion of numerous new bilateral trade agreements, including with Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam and of course just in the last few weeks with the South American block Mercosur, Weyand stated that the EU will now move towards focusing on the implementation and enforcement of these agreements, as well as ensuring the preservation of the multilateral WTO system against increasing protectionism.
This strategy was equally echoed by new President Elect of the European Commission,Ursula von der Leyen, who has stated her intention to appoint a “Chief Trade Enforcement Officer” within the European Commission, to supervise the implementation of EU trade accords.
The newly struck trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur is likely to be a key focus in this regard, with the ratification process expected to take upwards of 3 years, followed by its gradual introduction over a 9-year period and the persistent concerns regarding sustainability and standards.
The EU has insisted that the deal upholds the precautionary principle for food safety and environmental protection, as it contains specific, binding commitments on environmental protection, including the implementation of the Paris Climate agreement (to reduce domestic emissions by 37-40%), deforestation and reforestation targets, improved animal welfare standards and a reduction in antibiotic use targets. However, there are clear concerns about the potential of the deal to create “double standards” in terms of regulation on food products and in effect cause carbon leakage in the agri-food sector, particularly regarding beef production.
Alison Graham – European Affairs Executive
28 May 2021