A summary of the exchange of views with Emil Karanikolov, Bulgarian Minister of Economy, representing the President-in-Office of the Council, is available.
Two Bulgarian ministers – Mr Emil Karanikolov, Minister for the Economy, and Ms Monika Panayotova, Deputy Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU –presented today the Presidency priorities in their areas of responsibility before two committees of the European parliament – International Trade (INTA) and Constitutional Affairs (AFCO).
Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. This regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors.
The agenda includes items related to energy & climate, environment, trade and transport policy.
On 21 December 2017, the Council prolonged economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2018.
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.