OPP Meeting Summary: Hearing of Phil Hogan, Commissioner-designate for Trade (30 September 2019)

A summary of the hearing is now available.

EP INTA Committee – 30 September 2019
Hearing of Phil Hogan, Commissioner-designate for Trade
View the briefings and Commissioner answers here.


Chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) made opening remarks:

  • he stated that Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan, had provided written answers to the Committee questions;
  • he said that the EP JURI Committee did not object the nomination of Phil Hogan as Commissioner;
  • he commented on the evolutions of trade policy and of the INTA Committee in the last years;
  • he recalled the duties of the INTA Committee in relation to free-trade agreements and trade-related legislations;
  • he mentioned the ongoing upheavals in trade policy including EU-US relations and tariffs, the possibility of Brexit and other;
  • he welcomed the good trade agreements and legislations concluded in the recent years to stabilize the rules-based trading system;
  • he commented on improvements led by the INTA Committee including on CETA and conflict minerals legislation;
  • he stated that trade gained more public awareness, especially regarding its relation to climate change issues;
  • he emphasized the importance of some key principles for the future of the European trade policy including:
    • sustainability,
    • implementation and enforcement,
    • coherence with other policies,
    • democratic scrutiny,
  • he quoted Ursula von der Leyen on the need to have a special partnership between the European Commission and the European Parliament;
  • he welcomed the detailed replies from Commissioner Hogan, but raised for points on which the Parliament wanted more clarity:
    • he stated that the European Parliament should be perceived as an institutional actor, and not as any other stakeholder,
    • he welcomed the commitment to share scoping papers, but asked whether for the European Parliament to be involved before the scoping papers are concluded,
    • he also stated that he would favour a stronger involvement of the European Parliament regarding the provisional application of trade agreements, he further asked for a clearer answer on this issue,
    • he asked for the scrutiny competence of the European Parliament to be applicable to the implementation process, and asked for the same process to apply to joint committees, Council and other institutions,
  • he recalled the rules of procedures and technicalities of the hearing, which will include an opening and closing statement from Commissioner-designate Hogan and 25 questions from MEPs, including 7 from coordinators.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan, gave opening remarks:

  • he thanked Ursula von der Leyen for his nomination to this portfolio;
  • he hoped to gain the trust of the INTA Committee;
  • he emphasized his prior experiences on international trade during his collaborations with outgoing Commissioner Cecilia Malmström under his previous portfolio;
  • he welcomed the legacy of Commissioner Malmström and expressed his will to build on her work;
  • he stated that he had experienced first hand how trade was crucial to support the European economy as it supports 1 in 7 jobs in the EU;
  • he affirmed his beliefs in EU trade policy’s ability to support sustainable growth, stability and predictability;
  • he stressed the importance of the latter in an increasingly volatile world, emphasizing the role of trade policy in providing a level-playing field for European companies and in protecting them from unfair trading practices;
  • he stated that the European trade policy needed to evolve to tackle issues such as security, strategic autonomy and technological leadership;
  • he further acknowledged that the European trade policy should promote EU values in the field of climate action, sustainable development, labour rights, standards and women empowerment;
  • he reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to transparency and stated that he would be available to appear in front of the INTA Committee and in Plenary;
  • he stated that he would ensure that MEPs have timely access to all of the information they needed, and that he would look carefully into the suggestion of the Chair Bernd Lange (S&D);
  • he explained that he would encourage the Council to listen to the views of the European Parliament in making progress on legislative files and in avoiding provisional application of trade agreements prior to the European Parliament’s consent;
  • he stated that he would support the European Parliament in its activities to promote the European trade policy abroad;
  • he set out the five main priorities for this mandate:
    • supporting the stable and predictable multilateral rules-based trade environment by strengthening the WTO,
    • managing relationships with EU partners and pursuing to build partnerships with countries around the world, with a focus on the direct neighbourhood and on Africa,
    • implementing and enforcing existing agreements to bring the benefits to all European companies,
    • ensuring that the EU has the necessary tools to promote fair and open trade and to provide a level-playing field internally and externally,
    • ensuring the sustainability of trade according to European values in the field of climate action, in line with the priorities of the incoming Commission and this Parliament,
  • he emphasized that trade’s benefits relied on stable and predictable environment based on the multilateral rules-based order:
    • he quoted the words of Ursula von der Leyen on the importance of multilateralism,
    • he acknowledged the challenges faced by the multilateral trade order and the WTO,
    • he stated that the WTO needed to be updated to enforce rules and settle disputes,
    • he stated that the WTO rule-book needed to be able to tackle today’s challenges,
    • he explained that, if appointed, he would build on previous work to prevent the collapse of the WTO dispute-settlement mechanism and to find a systemic reform for the appellate body,
  • he stated that the Commission would work hard with other partners to reinvigorate the negotiating functions of the WTO:
    • to conclude negotiations on fishery subsidies in line with SDGs,
    • to conclude services and investment facilitation negotiations,
    • to advance negotiations on e-commerce in the frame of the upcoming MC12,
    • to propose an initiative on the update of the WTO rulebook in the second half of 2020 in order to address issues related to subsidies and forced technology transfer,
  • acknowledging the issue of rising protectionism, he stated that as Trade Commissioner, he would be ready to assume a leading position to support European interest and values;
  • with regards to transatlantic relations, he stated that the EU shared several of the US concerns on the multilateral system, but that the EU believed in a rules-based system to address such concerns;
  • he expressed that the Commission would continue to work on areas of common interest and to achieve the reduction of trade tensions such as what was achieved by the Trump-Juncker declaration;
  • he mentioned the possibilities to work in the trilateral EU-US-Japan forum on the reform of the WTO;
  • he reaffirmed his commitment to a positive transatlantic agenda in order to normalize trade relations – in line with the agreement on beef reached with the US;
  • regarding the relationship between security, technology and trade, he outlined common concerns raised by the EU, the US and Japan;
  • he further expressed his will to cooperate with these partners on some aspects including exports control, subsidies and the involvement of the state in the economy;
  • however, he also emphasized the importance of EU-China relations;
  • he reaffirmed his will to ensure a level-playing field both in global markets and in the domestic one;
  • he expressed his commitment to working with China on areas of common interest such as climate change, environmental protection and the reform of the WTO – including on discipline on industrial subsidies;
  • he stated that he would continue efforts in the negotiations of bilateral investment agreement with China;
  • he acknowledged the concerns of this European Parliament on the respect of European values and stated that he would uphold principles of fairness and reciprocity in the EU-China trade relations;
  • he acknowledge the importance of ensuring the security of the European critical infrastructure and technological base as outlined in the March 2019 Communication on China;
  • mentioning the newly established FDI screening mechanism, he stated that the Commission would continue working on addressing the distorting effects of foreign ownership and subsidies in the internal market;
  • he stated that the Commission should continue to work to make sure that agreements concluded with eastern neighbours are implemented and to develop the DCFTAs with the southern Mediterranean countries;
  • he also mentioned the importance of developing relations with EEA countries including Switzerland and Turkey;
  • with regards to Brexit, he mentioned the short timeframe remaining and the uncertainties but stressed that the Commission had intensively prepared for a no-deal Brexit;
  • he expressed his support for the continuation of the Europe-Africa alliance;
  • he stated that building on his own experience, he would foster the creation of Taskforce for Rural Africa;
  • he explained that recent agreements with Canada, Japan, Vietnam and Mercosur demonstrate the EU’s ability to leverage its internal market to gain access to other markets, to spread European regulations and standards and to help improve social and environmental policy;
  • he stated that the Commission would continue negotiations with Australia and New-Zealand, and open new ones if the right conditions are met;
  • he explained that the EU would also give the priority to the implementation and enforcement of existing agreements across all chapters;
  • he stated that the appointment of a Chief Enforcement Officer would be the central point of this work;
  • he stated that this position will work closely with the European Parliament;
  • he emphasized the importance of ensuring that European SMEs access foreign markets;
  • he stated that the EU should stand up against protectionism where it occurs and to promote reciprocal conditions;
  • he highlighted the International Procurement Instrument as an important tool to achieve a level-playing field in government procurement;
  • he stated that the Commission should address the issue of market distorting subsidies by making a full use of all its instruments including in the field of trade defence;
  • he explained that the EU will have to strengthen its toolbox to address such policies in times when the WTO is not available;
  • with regards to sustainability, he stressed that trade should contribute to climate change, environment protection and labour standards;
  • he further appraised the existing TSD chapters in European trade agreements, which includes binding provisions on labour rights and the environment;
  •  he stated that he would be ready to pursue these objectives through all existing instruments including preferential treatment, bilateral trade agreement and multilateral fora;
  • he mentioned the examples of opening markets for environmental goods and services;
  • he stated that if appointed he would work with the European Parliament on the reform of the GSP;
  • he emphasized the importance of the European trade policy in a disturbed world, and expressed his will to work with the European Parliament to strengthen the leadership of the European Union in the promotion of a fair and rules-based trade system.

Coordinator Questions


Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU)

  •  he emphasized the importance of the transatlantic relations and asked the Commissioner-designate:
    • how he intended to reset the EU-US relations?
    • how would the EU stand up for the rules-based system when the US president is manipulating the interdependence of transatlantic relations.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stressed the importance of not losing sight of the big picture and emphasized the economic importance of the EU-US trade flow;
  • he stated that the Trump-Juncker declaration was a signal of re-engagement but acknowledged the lack of progress on this agenda since July 2018;
  • he stated that the objective of President von der Leyen was to build on this agenda and to pursue a political dialogue to work towards a positive, balanced and mutually beneficial partnership with the US;
  • he stated that he would stand ready to engage with the US, while stating that he would focus on upholding European interest and on emphasizing the mutually beneficial dimension;
  • he mentioned the agreement on beef concluded with the US as an example of the EU’s willingness to resolve outstanding issues through dialogue and cooperation;
  • he highlighted the recent changes in the field of security and technology to give an example of the importance of EU-US cooperation at a multilateral level and in the WTO;
  • he further outlined other issues of common interest such as state subsidies and state ownership;
  • he strengthened that cooperating under the WTO and emphasizing the mutually beneficial aspects of the relationship could lead to agreements with the US;
  • he hoped that the US would be willing to cooperate in this way.

Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU)

  • he followed-up with another question regarding the Airbus case and the retaliatory measures announced by the US on wine, cheese and others;
  • he commented that the US were effectively targeting member states involved in the production of Airbus products and evoked the possibility that the US were aiming at breaking the unity amongst member states;
  • with regards to this situations, he asked the Commissioner-designate for his impressions, his thoughts on possibilities to avoid such sanctions and to support farmers if they are applied.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that Commissioner Malmström has put forward a plan regarding the WTO dispute on Airbus, with the aim to make sure Airbus is fully compliant;
  • he recalled that another case regarding Boeing was still ongoing and that a decision should be issued sometime soon;
  • he explained that these retaliatory measures would not make sense since the EU is moving to comply with the decision;
  • he further stated that the Commission has tried to engage with the US on this issue with no success for now;
  • while acknowledging the sensitiveness of the commodities concerned, he said that the Commission would not take any measures until the width and depth of the retaliatory measures are known;
  • he however reaffirmed that the EU was able and willing to stand up for itself and that it was ready to identify product in return.

Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D, BE)

  • she focused on questions regarding the free-trade agreements;
  • she mentioned the examples of violations in South Korea and Colombia to showcase the defaults of the existing TSD chapters;
  • she referred to the written answer of the Commissioner-designate and to his intention to use all available tools to contribute to sustainable and climate objectives;
  • she asked how he aimed at achieving this objective with the non-working TSD chapters;
  • she further mentioned the outgoing Commission’s 15 point action plan, and asked for the Commissioner-designate’s position on this issue.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that from his meeting with coordinators, he understood the Committee’s high expectations regarding the implementation and enforcement of existing agreements;
  • regarding the Korean example, he stated that it was the first time that the EU had to use all the tools at its disposal to bring a country to comply with TSD provisions;
  • he further explained that it would be a good way to test the existing compliance mechanisms;
  • with regards to the 15 point action plan, he stated that a greater involvement of the civil society and other institutions would be instrumental in bringing third countries to comply;
  • he further stated that he supported this action plan and reaffirmed that the Korean case would be a very interesting test case on which the Commission can build further actions.

Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D, BE)

  • she used her follow-up question to raise the issue of Amazon fires and the Mercosur agreement;
  • she expressed doubts on the agreement’s ability to influence Brazilian policies and favoured the use of the ratification procedure as a leverage to obtain further concessions on a list of pre-ratification conditions;
  • she asked whether the Commissioner-designate would agree on the “pre-ratification conditions approach”.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he recalled that President Bolsonaro had a different position prior to being elected and stated that the EU-Mercosur agreement incentivized the signature of the Paris Agreement by Brazil;
  • he further stated that under the Paris Agreement he committed to 12 million hectares of reforestation, zero logging and better forest management;
  • he further emphasized that the European trade policy was instrumental in leveraging better climate and environment legislation in Mercosur countries, including Brazil;
  • he further stressed that no tools currently existed outside of trade policy to achieve such leverages;
  • he stated that the final ratification stage was also a crucial moment to gain leverage, and explained that he was ready to look at Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D) proposal of “pre-ratification conditions”;
  • however, he warned MEPs that if a list of pre-conditions was drafted, Mercosur countries would ask for opening other chapters;
  • he emphasized that “nothing is free when it comes to trade”.

Karin Karlsbro (RE, SE)

  • she stressed that creating a global level-playing field, especially in developing economies, should be a central to the modern digital trade agenda;
  • she asked which action would be undertaken by the Commissioner-designate to promote an open and fair global digital economy that respects reciprocity, fair competition, transparency and consumer privacy while creating opportunities for people and business within and outside the EU;
  • she also asked how he would ensure that already existing international agreement on digital trade and upcoming European legislation would create a coherent set of rules;
  • she finally asked when the Commission would release a digital trade strategy.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he agreed that a global open and fair trade should be based on rules, which is why the EU was trying to convince the US that it was the way forward;
  • he stated that he had met DG Azevedo, who stressed the need for European leadership on these issues;
  • he mentioned existing tools to protect the European industry including:
    • the FDI screening,
    • the International Procurement Instrument – regarding which he shared that the German position might be evolving,
  • he explained that the effect of foreign subsidies on the European market in the digital area was of great importance for the Commission and that he would work on this issue along with VP-designate Vestager to develop a tool able to tackle such issues;
  • he appraised the open and fair European single market but stressed that it should be defended when foreign companies take advantage of its openness;
  • he hinted that the Chinese economy and the issues it raised needed to be addressed;
  • he further mentioned the importance of export controls in making sure that European goods and technologies are not misused in a way that would threaten the global security.

Karin Karlsbro (RE, SE)

  • she followed-up with a question on the possibilities to create further involvements of civil society in trade negotiations, monitoring and evaluation;
  • she also asked which communication actions would be taken by the Commissioner-designate to ensure that trade benefits all European economic actors.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he reaffirmed that he was eager to engage with all stakeholders including with civil society as this was a crucial commitment to create the European single market;
  • he stressed that the Commission was engaging with partners, including China, on e-commerce negotiations in the WTO to ensure a level-playing field;
  • he further stated that the Commission was ready to lead any action to communicate on the content of the agreement and stated that it would need the help of MEPs to do that.

Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, FI)

  • she welcomed the mention of a “zero tolerance for child labour” in the written answers of the Commissioner-designate;
  • she referenced several resolutions of the INTA Committee regarding mandatory due diligence in situation where human rights are breached by European companies or where there are concerns of deforestation;
  • she also referred to the Commission’s call in July for regulatory and non-regulatory eliminating deforestation in the European value-chains;
  • she asked what would the Commissioner-designate do with regards to the implementation of a mandatory due diligence of European supply chains.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he acknowledged that this Committee would be able to use its right of initiative to make a proposal on such issues, as proposed by President von der Leyen;
  • he looked forward to working with this Committee in the developing of a proposal regarding due-diligence;
  • he gave example of other instruments which had a potential to tackle human rights violations:
    • the conflict mineral legislation, which will enter into force in 2021 and can be revised in 2023,
    • the timber regulation which prohibits the placing on the market of illegal timber products,
    • the victim rights directive,
    • the non-financial reporting directive providing due-diligence activities for 6000 of the largest European companies,
  • he stated that a lot of progress were made and stressed that trade policy could leverage more positive developments on human rights;
  • he reaffirmed that he would support an initiative from this Committee on such issues.

Heidi Hautala (Greens/EFA, FI)

  • regarding the implementation of SDGs, she asked for the Commissioner-designate’s opinion on the concrete implementation of these targets which are now spread across all the portfolios of the Commissioner-designate.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that the Chief Enforcement Officer as envisaged would have a role on this issue;
  • he further stated that he would start working on this issue with stakeholders as soon as 2020 to define a high-level and politically accountable mechanism for the implementation of TSD chapters and SDGs in trade.

Markus Buchheit (ID, DE)

  • he raised the issue of protests against the TTIP and the CETA and linked it to concerns on the impact of trade for farmers;
  • he stressed the importance of consumer protection standards and food security matters;
  • regarding Mercosur, he raised concerns on the figures of agricultural trade, the publication impact assessments and an overall lack of information and clarity on the impact of the deal for farmers;
  • he asked which action would be taken by Phil Hogan if the impact revealed by the impact assessment would exceed the current foreseeable impact.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he acknowledged the concerns of agriculture, but stressed that looking at the cumulative impact of this agreement would actually be positive for the European agriculture;
  • he stated that a sustainable impact assessment, an economic analysis and a cumulative assessment would be undertaken in relation to the conclusion of the EU-Mercosur agreement and that these information would be shared by the Commission in the coming months;
  • he stated that by keeping TRQs as low as possible on sensitive commodities (beef, sugar, ethanol and poultry), the Commission achieved a balanced agreement with Mercosur;
  • he hoped that these analysis would be able to demonstrate that a positive outcome had been achieved with important gains for some sectors (including dairy, wine, olives and others);
  • he also mentioned the safeguard mechanism included in the agreement which also covered TRQ products.

Markus Buchheit (ID, DE)

  • he asked for more information on the support fund announced by Commissioner Hogan.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that this money was put aside in order to reassure farmers regarding the Mercosur deal;
  • he stated that this fund would be set up outside of the CAP.

Geert Bourgeois (ECR, BE)

  • he reaffirmed his groups beliefs in free and fair trade, however he stressed the importance of defending the European industry from dumping and dumping accusations;
  • he stated that the EU has not been quick enough so far, and he asked if the Commission would be ready to take faster measures.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he agreed with the comments by Geert Bourgeois (ECR) on the need for timely responses, especially when taking into account the need of SMEs;
  • he stated that the Commission was ready to support European SMEs in the collection of evidence-based proof and in accelerating the processes and in collaborating with member states;
  • regarding the situation in Colombia and the safeguard on frozen fries, he stated that the Commission was ready to act and to explore other options.

Geert Bourgeois (ECR, BE)

  • he followed up with a question on the role of the Chief Enforcement Officer in such timely responses to global market distortions and accusations.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that he would cooperate with the Chief Enforcement Officer and the European Parliament on these issues;
  • he further reaffirmed that the issue of Belgian fries is being dealt with in the Commission and stated that a case for review has been submitted to Colombian authorities;
  • he stressed that the Commission was envisaging to build a case against Colombia in the WTO.

Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL, DE)

  • he recalled the commitments of the Commissioner-designate on promoting a rules-based system and mentioned the UNCTAD Geneva Principles for a Global Green New Deal;
  • he asked if the due-diligence mechanism proposed by the Parliament in the garment industry, with a view to promoting the goals included in the Geneva principles, would be a good tool in the opinion of the Commissioner-designate.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he recalled that if the Committee decided to prioritize the work on the due-diligence, he would be eager to engage on with the Committee on the scope of its proposal;
  • he stated that he was welcoming comments and ideas from MEPs.

Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL, DE)

  • he raised the issue of enforceability of such provisions and asked how the Commission intended to ensure the adhesion of civil society to such principles;
  • he asked whether he would continue the work on the fair and ethical trade award.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that he would be happy to support the fair and ethical trade award in the upcoming years and appraised the award for its ability to generate public outreach.

Questions from other members


Jörgen Warborn (EPP, SE)

  • he emphasized the importance of SMEs for the European economy and commented on the low utilisation rate of SMEs;
  • he asked how the Commissioner-designate intended to raise this utilisation rate and whether he considered simplifying rules of origins to facilitate trade for SMEs.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he agreed with the comment of  Jörgen Warborn (EPP) on the importance of SMEs in the European economy;
  • he stated that the EU now included SME dedicated chapter to address their needs;
  • he stated that the awareness-raising of trade agreements was a key issue and he called for cooperation between the Commission, the Council and MEPs on raising awareness and creating new platforms;
  • he welcomed examples of best practices;
  • regarding the rules of origins, he stated that there would be discussions on bringing more homogeneity to rules of origins amongst agreements but acknowledged that they would always remain different due to the differences between the partners.

Jörgen Warborn (EPP, SE)

  • with regards to bureaucracy, he asked how the Commissioner intended to use the principle “one-in, one-out” in relation to trade.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he commented that trade policy was not a legislation heavy area;
  • he stated that he would work in cooperation with Ursula von der Leyen to identify possible simplification.

Nicola Danti (S&D, IT)

  • he asked for more details on the social and climate agenda of the Commission in relation to the WTO.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he reaffirmed that the Commission was currently engaging with like-minded partners to further define the strategy to reform the WTO;
  • he stated that the EU agenda included:
    • new rules to reinstate a level playing-field (including in relation to subsidies, transparency and technology transfer) which will require the engagement of China,
    • identifying avenues to improve the efficiency of the WTO, including by considering plurilateral approaches at times,
    • discussing the definition of a developing country status – especially with regards to China.

Nicola Danti (S&D, IT)

  • regarding e-commerce and the digital sector, he stressed the need for global rules with regards to consumer protection and data privacy;
  • he asked what was the Commissioner-designate positions on the e-commerce negotiations in the WTO.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that the EU position was to protect citizens and data while opening the digital economy to the world;
  • he stated that the EU expected more progress in 2019 but hoped for an agreement by MC12, especially considering the traction of China, Japan and the US on this dossier.

Jordi Cañas (RE, ES)

  • he asked for more information on Phil Hogan’s support to the EU-Mercosur agreement;
  • he highlighted the opportunities created by the agreement and the concerns on agriculture, the environment and Amazon fires;
  • he further asked how the EU could ensure a balanced, fair and sustainable agreement;
  • he finally asked which effective mechanisms could be put in place to ensure compliance on environment and human right relates provisions.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he reaffirmed that the agreement will increase the leverage power of the EU on environmental and human right issues;
  • with regards to agriculture, he stressed that the agreement would be highly beneficial for most sectors of the Spanish economy and agriculture;
  • he emphasized the high level of geographical indication protection in the agreement;
  • he further stressed the importance of this agreement in disseminating the European intellectual property standards, especially with regards to GIs;
  • he reaffirmed the importance of the safeguard agreements in agriculture;
  • he reaffirmed the ability of the TSD chapter to incentivize Mercosur countries in their policy choices – including the signing of the Mercosur agreement by Brazil;
  • he expressed his support of the leverage gained in the field of market access.

Jordi Cañas (RE, ES)

  • he stated that he was a supporter of the Mercosur agreement, and was actually looking for strong arguments to convince people doubting;
  • he stated that the key issues was to convince citizens that the provisions can be enforced.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he explained that the ratification process in itself, and the pressure coming from Europe, were pressures on Mercosur countries to follow the Paris Agreement;
  • he further reaffirmed that the safeguard mechanism included in the agreement had the possibility to protect European farmers – he gave the example of the safeguards on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar;
  • he stated that the Commission would stand ready to provide more information and to work with the Parliament on improving its communication.

Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou (EPP, GR)

  • she asked for more information on the Commissioner-designate’s plans to balance the reform of the WTO and the engagement of the US and China;
  • she asked how the Commissioner-designate intended to involve the European Parliament in the WTO reform.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he recalled elements of the crisis of the WTO and reaffirmed the European commitment to uphold this institutions and the rules-based system;
  • he outlined that concerns on the WTO were shared by the US and the EU, but that the US were not eager to work with other partners on such issues at the moment;
  • he stated that the EU should be able to stand up for its own values and interests and therefore emphasized the importance of trade defence instruments which are able to tackle current challenges (forced technology transfer, IP infringement, SOEs, Chinese subsidies…).

Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou (EPP, GR)

  • she asked for the Commissioner-designate’s position on the multilateral investment court project being discussed in the UNCITRAL.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that the EU was supporting this court and that he would work to pursue this objective.

Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández (S&D, ES)

  • she raised the issue of Chinese distorting practices and stressed the need for a reform of the WTO;
  • she asked how the EU could ensure China’s adhesion to the reform of the WTO;
  • she asked how the European safeguard policy could be strengthened to address this issue, and more specifically to address the high administrative cost for SMEs;
  • she asked how the Commissioner-designate intended to protect the most sensitive agricultural sector.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he mentioned the ongoing EU-Canada project to set up a temporary dispute settlement model;
  • he stated that he would keep engaging with the US to understand what they were trying to achieve;
  • he stated that the EU was still engaging with China on the WTO reform;
  • regarding the cost of the safeguard investigations, he stated that it would rely on the threshold set by the co-legislators;
  • he supported low cost of such investigation for SMEs.

Inmaculada Rodríguez-Piñero Fernández (S&D, ES)

  • she asked for more clarity on his plan to foster economic relations with Latin America;
  • highlighting Commissioner Malmström’s agenda, she expressed concerns on the low-ambitions of the Commissioner-designate in including gender issues in trade policy and trade agreements;
  • she asked a question on the harmonization of customs and his plans to work with the Commissioner for internal market on this issue.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he reaffirmed that no products could enter the market without respecting European standards, especially SPS measures;
  • he further stated that it was the responsibility of member states to run the controls and checks;
  • he recalled the quick response of the European customs with regards to issues with Brazil a couple of years ago;
  • regarding gender equality, he said that he would be eager to engage with the agenda prepared by Commissioner Malmström on this issue.

Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • she raised concerns on the current investment protection policy of the EU which favours the multinationals over the states;
  • she asked whether the Commissioner-designate shared her concerns on the weight of investment protection on the right to regulate, especially in relation to climate action;
  • she further asked what the Commission intended to do to establish make sure that SDGs and climate action take precedence over the investment dispute;
  • she asked what was the Commissioner-designate’s position on imposition of investor obligation in the field of human rights and the environment.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that he was in favour of the establishment of a multilateral court system;
  • he admitted that he was not yet really familiar with the dossier but expressed his eagerness to engage with the European parliament on the issue of investor right and investment protection.

Anna Cavazzini (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • she asked if the Commissioner-designate was willing to put forward new proposals on the implementation of SDGs and sustainability supplementing the enforcement efforts.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he reaffirmed the importance of sustainability for Europe and for its trade policy;
  • he explained that SDGs would be included in the EU position regarding the reform of the WTO;
  • he stated that he would use the 15-points action plan issued by the Parliament as an agenda to drive SDGs forward.

Marco Campomenosi (ID, IT)

  •  he raised the issue of the WTO ruling on Airbus, and asked how the Commissioner-designate was going to mitigate the impact of the US potential retaliatory measures on the agricultural sector – especially considering the cumulative impact of other agreements and negotiations.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he reaffirmed that the agriculture would not be included in any agreement with the US;
  • he wished that the US would engage with the EU on this in order to normalise the situation and the tariffs which may emerge from the WTO disputes on Airbus and Boeing;
  • he reiterated that Airbus should come into compliance;
  • with regards to the tariffs to be imposed by the US, he stated that he would engage with stakeholders once more information is known in order to ensure that the EU reacts both immediately and prepare retaliatory measures regarding the Boeing case;
  • he however stressed that he would rather discuss and negotiate with the US than to engage in a tariff war.

Marco Campomenosi (ID, IT)

  • he listed all the Commissioner for Trade names and hinted that coming from different areas, they may not be aware of issues in Mediterranean countries;
  • he asked for guarantees on the protection of the geographical indications and designated origins.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stressed that as Commissioner he had to represent the EU interest with no focus on specific geographical areas;
  • he further stressed the importance of a united Europe on trade issues.

Jan Zahradil (ECR, CZ)

  • he drew the attention on Asia;
  • he outlined the complexity of the EU-China relation representing both threats and opportunities;
  • he asked for more details on the specific EU position on China, which would not be a copy of the American strategy.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that the EU was engaged in negotiations with China regarding investments, which provided a platform to address the above-mentioned issues including (SOEs, forced economy transfer…);
  • he stated that these negotiations should be concluded in 2020;
  • he stated that he would start putting the European agenda forward in the WTO meeting in Shanghai (5 November 2020).

Jan Zahradil (ECR, CZ)

  • he highlighted the geo-economic situation in South-East Asia and the opportunities for the EU to negotiate trade deals in this region;
  • he asked the Commissioner-designate about his position on negotiating a region to region agreement with ASEAN.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he recalled the efforts of Commissioner Malmström to negotiate a region to region agreement but highlighted that several countries were not currently in a position to negotiate such as the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia;
  • he however stated that the EU negotiated good agreements with Vietnam, Singapore and South Korea as well as ongoing negotiations Indonesia;
  • he stated that while he did not see any progress possible at the moment on a region to region agreement, he stated that progress could be achieved bilaterally in the region.

David McAllister (EPP, DE)

  • he raised concerns on the functioning of the FDI screening mechanism and asked whether the Commissioner-designate intended to strengthen the mechanism.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he acknowledged existing challenges in the FDI screening mechanism and hoped to strengthen the cooperation amongst member states, especially the ones included in the 17+1 strategy;
  • he stated that he would work together with the European Parliament on ways to improve and strengthen the FDI screening in order to better protect critical technologies and infrastructure in relation to China;
  • he also stated that the International Procurement Instrument would be another tool to rebalance this relationship.

David McAllister (EPP, DE)

  • he pointed out the imbalances on the global procurement market, and asked how the Commissioner intended to move the International Procurement Instrument forward in the Council.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that he had already engaged with Peter Altmeier on the issue and that he would engage further with member states;
  • he explained that there was a growing awareness in the Council on the importance of this instrument.

Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (RE, FR)

  • she raised issues on the lack of fairness and reciprocity and asked how the Commissioner-designate intended to move the International Procurement Instrument forward;
  • she further asked which concrete proposal the Commissioner-designate would put forward to support a fair and multilateral trade system;
  • she asked for more information on the role of Chief Enforcement Officer, its responsibilities, its resources and its inclusion in the hierarchy of the Commission.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he reaffirmed that the core of the European agenda to support fairness and multilateralism was the support of the WTO – he referred back to his reply to Nicola Danti (S&D);
  • he stated that the Commission was working on a “plan B” regarding the WTO and would come forward with proposals;
  • he reaffirmed his will to complete the European trade toolbox with the International Procurement Instrument;
  • regarding the Chief Enforcement Officer, he stated that this position would have a deputy director-general status in the DG Trade, with necessary instruments, with the necessary resources while being politically accountable.

Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (RE, FR)

  • she asked for more information on specific proposals to ensure that products entering the European market are compliant with EU rules.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he gave the example of fraud in the field of organic products which was solved by harmonising the domestic regulations;
  • he stressed that the SPS chapters in recent agreements was instrumental in raising the standards in third countries;
  • he stated that the protection of standards was crucial in ensuring that no infringing goods are placed on the European market.

Tiziana Beghin  (Non-attached, IT)

  • she blamed Commissioner Malmström for not treating the sustainable impact assessment as a priority;
  • she asked if the Commissioner-designate intended to make sure that such assessments are lead prior to beginning negotiations.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he recalled that the current practice was to lead these assessments ahead of the negotiations in the frame of an inception stage;
  • he stated that these assessment were already published and the Commission would provide a sustainable impact assessment, an economic analysis and a cumulative impact assessment in relation to Mercosur in the coming months prior to the ratification;
  • he also stated that ex-ante assessment were also led by the Commission;
  • he stated that the Commission was not falling short on assessments.

Tiziana Beghin  (Non-attached, IT)

  • she specified that her question regarded the publication of sustainable impact assessment ahead of negotiations;
  • she focused on a different issues: the safeguard on imports from Cambodia based on the “union interest”;
  • she asked what was the exact definition of “union interest” and whether it was possible to trigger such clauses if only one member state was experiencing difficulties.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that he could not provide a legal opinion on the specific definition;
  • he however stressed that triggering a safeguard was based on evidence of surging imports;
  • he further stated that the case of Cambodia and Myanmar had set a precedent on the triggering of a safeguard for TRQ products.

Joachim Schuster (S&D, DE)

  • regarding the Carbon Border Tax, he raised the issue of the legal base which would be determining in ratifying the law and in determining its ties with other systems including the ETS;
  • he asked for the Commissioner-designate’s plan for a Carbon Border Tax.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he acknowledged the complexity of the issue, and welcomed the fact that this issue was part of Paolo Gentiloni’s portfolio;
  • he recalled that this mechanism aimed at avoiding carbon leakage and at creating a level-playing field for European companies;
  • he raised the issue of the ETS and of free-allowances which can prevent the quantifying of a carbon tax;
  • he stated that he would cooperate closely with Commissioner-designate Timmermans and Gentiloni to consider the options;
  • he reaffirmed his will to tackle this issue.

Joachim Schuster (S&D, DE)

  • he stated that he was not entirely satisfied by the Commissioner’s reply and asked for more elements on the WTO compliance of such carbon border tax;
  • he also raised the issue of the lack of enforceability of TSD provisions such as trade union rights in South Korea.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • regarding the case of South Korea, he stated that the Commission tried to use dialogue and finally resorted to the use of the dispute settlement mechanism of the TSD provisions for the first time;
  • he stated that he was not able to give any details on the Carbon Border Tax since the preliminary definition of the measure had not started;
  • he reaffirmed his support to the measure.

Danuta Maria Hübner (EPP, PL)

  • she raised the issue of the future relationship between the EU and the UK, and on the type of FTA to be negotiated in case of Brexit, she stressed that any agreement would need to include the issue of standards and regulators conversion;
  • she asked if the EU already have some red tapes on the future agreement.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he agreed on the importance of standards and stated that he would stand ready to undertake the responsibility of negotiating a balanced agreement based on the guidelines issued by the Council and the Parliament.

Emmanuel Maurel (S&D, FR)

  • he raised the issue of intellectual property infringement which was costly for the European economy and SMEs and stressed the role of online marketplaces such as Amazon Alibaba in distributing such goods;
  • he also raised concerns on the lack of mentions of this issue in the speech of Phil Hogan and in his mission letter.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that the EU was engaging with China on this issue at a bilateral and at a multilateral level;
  • he stated that this issue was also in the scope of the investment agreement with China – which should be concluded by the end of 2020.

Emmanuel Maurel (S&D, FR)

  • he hoped that the EU would be less naive in the WTO, and raised the issue of the cases brought by EU trade partners on the precautionary principle;
  • in line with the declaration of Maroš Šefčovič on preferring scientific evidences rather than doubts, and asked whether the Commissioner-designate would uphold the precautionary principle in trade policy.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he highlighted the inclusion of the precautionary principle in the EU-Mercosur agreement, and stressed that this was a red line for him.

Jude Kirton-Darling (S&D, UK)

  • she resisted a question on Brexit;
  • she raised the issue of the shortcomings of the GSP on the systematic violation, for instance in Cambodia, Myanmar or the Philippines;
  • she asked for five concrete actions to improve the implementation of the GSP and TSD chapters.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he insisted on the role of the Chief Enforcement Officer on those issues;
  • he stated that the Commission would receive complaints from civil society – such as is the case of Peru;
  • he stated that financial resources are in place to support civil society in third countries;
  • he mentioned the creation of a monitoring system on GSP countries to avoid dumping situations;
  • he was keen on reforming the system based on the recommendation provided by the European Parliament.

Jude Kirton-Darling (S&D, UK)

  • regarding the GSP, she stated that the EU was not using its sanction mechanism enough;
  • she asked whether the Commissioner-designate would take a position on the investor obligation.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that the EU was already providing investor obligation through its public investment funds, technical assistance and financial support – for instance in relation with the EU-Africa Union;
  • he stated that the private sector should engage on this issue through corporate social responsibility, and stressed that EU should use its policies including trade to incentivize this.

Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • he raised the issue of the urgency of climate action and stressed the lack of ambition of Ursula von der Leyen’s mission letter;
  • he asked for a demonstration of ambition and for concrete proposals on how trade policy could contribute to climate action, environmental protection and labour rights.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he referred to the international agreements and enhanced the role of trade policy in implementing them with trade partners;
  • with regards to labour rights, he emphasized the progresses achieved with Vietnam and Mercosur countries on the ratification of ILO conventions;
  • he affirmed that his ambition was to integrate the values of the European Union in trade policy.

Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens/EFA, DE)

  • regarding China, he raised concerns on the conclusion of a good agreement by 2020;
  • regarding the Chief Enforcement Officer, he asked if the Commissioner-designate could pledge to that this position would be engaging with civil society including trade unions and consumer protection organisations and picking up on comments made by the civil society.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that Chief Enforcement Officer would engage with all stakeholder including all institutions;
  • he stressed that this position would not register complaints in the same way as the Ombudsman, but he remained open to proposals on this issue.

Samira Rafaela (RE, NL)

  • she raise the issue of the of the EU-Africa relations, the non-entry into force of some EPAs and the post-cotonou relations;
  • she asked whether the Commissioner-designate would be on board to reinforce the EPA and the post-cotonou agreement in the field of sustainability under a value-based approach.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he referred to the comprehensive strategy for Africa, which will include the SDGs and will therefore be value-based;
  • he stressed the technical assistance provided by the EU to the African Union;
  • he stated that the current post-cotonou negotiations aimed at strengthening the relation with Africa in the field of values;
  • he expressed hopes on the improvement of the relations with Eastern Africa and that the existing EPA could become an FTA encompassing sustainability issues in all areas;
  • he expressed support to the upgrade of EPAs.

Samira Rafaela (RE, NL)

  • she insisted that gender equality should be part of the trade policy responsibility;
  • she asked what the Commissioner-designate’s agenda on gender equality was and whether he intended to include a chapter on gender equality in future FTAs.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that he would build on Commissioner Malmström’s initiatives on gender equality;
  • he stated that the impact of policy on women empowerment will be included in the practices of the DG Trade;
  • he highlighted the economic rationale to defend women empowerment as demonstrated in the conference organised by Commissioner Malmström;
  • he stated that gender equality would be included in any future agreement.

Iuliu Winkler (EPP, RO)

  • he insisted that China seemed to be the core of the mission later of Phil Hogan;
  • he highlighted the lack of level playing field and the eagerness to strengthen ties with China;
  • he asked how the Commissioner-designate intended to conciliate these two approaches and who will be his partners in the Commission for engaging with China.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he stated that everyone in the Commission would be included in the engagement with China including President von der Leyen;
  • he stated that he would be under Commissioner for Economic Development on these issues, but that the portfolios of VP Timmermans and Vestager would also be involved in this relation.
  • he stated that his first visit would be on 5 November in China to define a new agenda with China building on the previous strategy:
    • having strong tools to ensure a level-playing field,
    • making sure that the Chinese market opens to European actors.

Iuliu Winkler (EPP, RO)

  • he stated that there should not be only a focus on threats for farmers coming from trade, but also on opportunities opened by trade;
  • he asked what the Commissioner-designate would do to help farmers under the trade portfolio building on prior experience.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan

  • he commented on the fact that the farmers and the agribusiness community tended not to emphasize the positive side of trade;
  • he outlined opportunities opened by the deal with Japan, Mexico, Canada, which benefitted different areas and sectors of the European agriculture;
  • he insisted that every billion exported supported 16 to 20.000 jobs;
  • he stated that enforcing and implementing trade agreements aimed at making sure that these benefits were achieved;
  • he further enhanced the €200 million for the promotion of the agriculture sector;
  • he stressed that the strength of the European agriculture was quality and sustainability;
  • he encouraged farmers to follow these guidelines in order to ensure that they benefit from trade agreements;
  • he expressed interest in cooperating closely with his agriculture counterpart.

Chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE)

  • he welcomed the answers of the Commissioner-designate on a broad range of hot topics;
  • he commented that this session demonstrated that trade is no longer done behind closed doors.

Commissioner-designate for Trade, Phil Hogan made the following closing remarks:

  • he thanked the MEPs for their question and stated that he had answered them to the best of his ability;
  • he acknowledged that he was a little short on some issues but stated that if appointed he would bring more technical details;
  • he renewed his fundamental believe in the importance of trade;
  • he stated that trade was about prime and optimism, exploration, risk and innovation and above all about trust;
  • he further emphasized the importance of rules and compliance to rules;
  • he stated that the EU had gained the trust of its partners;
  • he emphasized the role the environment in European trade, and stated that the Commission would continue to base its policy around sustainability;
  • he stated that Europe wanted trade to benefit all, and wished to get the adhesion of its partners to these principles;
  • he stressed that communication would be crucial in the future of policies, for them not to lose track of the individual;
  • he recalled the instrumental role of trade in the achievements of the European construction;
  • he insisted on the importance of the way the EU was trading to determine its role in the world;
  • he emphasized that the European trade leadership should grow;
  • he stated that the European trade should demonstrate the scale of European commitments to peace, prosperity and to ending environmental despoliation;
  • he renewed his belief in these principles and asked for the MEPs trust.

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