Europe is in an important moment of introspection. The public health emergency did not necessarily bring new elements to the table; rather it has only accentuated changes that were already in motion, while concomitantly exposing important vulnerabilities of EU trade policy.
The Trade Policy Review is a stocktaking exercise, based on lessons learned over the past five years and future ambitions of the Common Commercial Policy. I am happy to see the prolongation of the public consultation until 15 November, as more observations will be taken into account. The impact of COVID-19 on our economies, businesses and commerce is still very much ongoing; therefore, some additional time is rather welcome. We need to skilfully use this opportunity to rethink our priorities
I will express two key ideas today:
Firstly, I want to draw attention to the increasing links between trade and security. This nexus needs to be carefully considered, not only for the resilience of our supply chains, but also for economic dependencies that can be created by strategic investments in critical infrastructure, and exploited for political purposes. Together with colleagues from the newly created special Committee on Foreign Interference (INGE), we are analysing such links. I am also looking forward to seeing how the FDI Screening Mechanism plays out in practice.
Secondly, we need to take note of the unequal distribution of trade-related benefits in Member States and European regions. In order to have a strong popular support in capitals and at local level for EU trade policy, not only do we need to communicate better, but we need to ensure that the costs and benefits of Trade Agreements fall in a balanced manner in our Member States.
Iuliu Winkler’s remarks on the occasion of the Trade Policy Day, 12th of October 2020