Latvia is now chairing the Council of Ministers from 1 January to 30 June 2015. FTA has keenly observed the way in which this may influence the trade policy priorities of the EU for the duration of the chairmanship.
In particular, with regard to product safety, the presidency reiterates the importance of the Consumer Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package. Latvia's aim is to achieve agreement on both proposals which have been blocked for over a year due to lack of support by member states. FTA will continue to observe developments amidst concerns that this draft package may increase costs and red tape for the distribution sector, notably by introducing mandatory origin labelling.
Other areas of the programme of the Latvian presidency focus on the multilateral system and plurilateral negotiations, such as TISA (services) and ITA (electronic goods). Another pressing priority will be to move ongoing trade talks with the US, Japan and Vietnam forward and to support the implementation process of the free trade agreements signed with Georgia, Moldova and the Ukraine. On the legislative level, the Latvian programme does not refer to the modernisation of the EU's trade defence instruments.
FTA will closely interact with the Latvian representation and the Council of Ministers to try to prevent undesired legislative proposals, such as the one on product safety, from gaining momentum.
By Dr. Pierre Gröning, Trade Policy Advisor, FTA (email@example.com)