The French Presidency of the Council of the European Union (FPEU) will host the trade ministers of the 27 Member States on 13 and 14 February in Marseille. They will be joined at Sunday’s dinner by the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and by the EU Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis.

Together, the policy makers will discuss the prospects for trade multilateralism and the challenges facing the WTO. The aim will be to restore momentum to the discussions, to look again at the European position and to see how to deal with the main trade issues at a multilateral level.

Africa. On Monday morning, the French minister, Franck Riester, who will chair the meeting, is set to invite his counterparts to discuss trade relations between the EU and Africa. They will think strategically about how to structure a continent-to-continent relationship. [...]

United States. Transatlantic relations, and specifically the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), will be the subject of discussion for ministers on Monday morning, in light of a presentation made by the European Commission on the current work being undertaken in the TTC Council. “It will also be an opportunity for the FPEU and Member States to illustrate their priority and vision for trade relations with the US”, said the source. The next meeting of the TTC Council is expected to take place in the spring – possibly in May – and will take place within the EU this time, according to an EU source. [...]

China. During the second part of the morning, participants will hear the Lithuanian Minister provide an update on Chinese enforcement measures taken against his country (see EUROPE B12878A4). [...]

Dialogue with the European Parliament. Finally, ministers will have lunch on Monday with the Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, Bernd Lange (S&D, Germany). They are due to discuss current trade policy issues, such as the trilogue work on the International Procurement Instrument (see EUROPE B12888A3) or future negotiations over the Anti-Coercion Tool (see EUROPE B12849A1). A further focus will also be on the issue of sustainability in trade, which is a strong request of the European Parliament. Although France is not expected to plead its case at this meeting, for several years it has been calling for the introduction of sanctions against partner countries that do not respect the chapters in trade agreements on sustainable development. The European Commission is due to present an initiative to clarify its position on this issue in the summer (see EUROPE B12888A4).