On 13 September, The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, gave his State of the Union Address in the European Parliament. He gave EU’s trade policy the highest priority, while covering a wide range of other topics.
President Juncker perfectly summarised the benefits of trade for economic growth and development, stating that “trade is about jobs” and noting that every additional €1 billion in exports supports 14,000 jobs. On this note, FTA would like to stress that imports also contribute to new jobs, increase consumer choice and lower production costs.
The significance given to trade policy by President Juncker shows the importance of FTA’s activities and the need for the business sector to advocate for a progressive EU trade policy, based on the promotion of standards and sustainable development.
FTA fully agrees with the statement that trade is about exporting our standards, be they social or environmental, data protection or food safety requirements. However, the focus should lie on promoting multilateral rather than European only standards, to ensure the highest alignment with partner countries to internationally recognised standards. European businesses already lead this practice through their high-quality sourcing requirements and by participating in sustainability initiatives such as BSCI and BEPI.
Furthermore, we must ensure that EU standards are not used as a barrier to trade and development. Excessively technical standards can be seen by some partners as trade protectionism and contribute to hampering trade. Therefore, a fine balance between exporting our standards and ensuring trade is needed.
To conclude, FTA will remain an active partner in shaping EU’s future trade policy to ensure that it contributes as much as possible to economic growth and the promotion of sustainable business practices globally.
Contact: Milan Pajic, Trade Policy Advisor