The feeling among MEPs on the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade (INTA) is unanimous: the conclusion of negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand is very good news. MEPs had the opportunity to discuss this with Dora Correia, Director for Africa, Asia, Pacific at the European Commission’s DG Trade, on Wednesday 13 July.

For several years, part of the European Parliament has been calling for more ambitious agreements in the area of the environment, with the possibility of sanctions in the event of non-compliance with the chapters on sustainable development. Their wish has been granted with the EU-New Zealand trade agreement, which implements the European Commission’s new vision for trade and sustainable development (see EUROPEB12977A13).

Once the agreement is in force, trade sanctions can be applied to either partner if it does not comply with the Paris Agreement or the core International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions (forced labour, child labour, freedom of association and elimination of discrimination), which it has ratified. The agreement also includes elements on the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, but in a less binding way, as both parties only commit to work together on the objective of eliminating such subsidies.

On the content of the agreement, the Chair of the INTA Committee Bernd Lange (S&D, German) said he was “really astonished” by the provisions after reading the whole text. He called it “the most advanced, modern and progressive agreement worldwide”. Most MEPs shared this view, praising the Commission’s work in the negotiations. [...]

Several MEPs called for the quick ratification of the agreement, if possible before the end of this electoral term, according to Bernd Lange. [...]