The Employers believe that the business community has a crucial role to play in spreading a positive message about trade and in explaining what an ambitious trade policy can do and achieve. It is business that can tell the story of the practical benefits stemming from trade agreements. This was the main message the members of the Employers’ Group delivered to Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, during the meeting on 6 December 2017.
A summary of the debate with a focus on the Commission and representatives of the political groups is now available.
With its strategy paper entitled ‘Trade for all’ in 2015, the Commission launched an EU trade policy that focussed on values such as human rights, workers’ rights, environmental protection and sustainable development. The idea was that free trade should be fair for both consumers in Europe and for citizens elsewhere. This approach was pursued in bilateral trade negotiations and in legislative proposals on, for example, conflict minerals, dual-use goods or the investment court system. But by the end of 2016 the tenor of the debate on international trade had changed, shifting the focus to national interests and fairness for consumers and producers at home. The UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU and the election of President Trump in the US, together with the expiry of the clause recognising China’s non-market economy status, contributed to this shift.