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20. Oktober 2023: Trade Committee Chair's speech ahead of EU trade ministers' informal meeting

Trade committee chair Bernd Lange (S&D, Germany) delivered a speech yesterday evening ahead of the informal meeting of EU trade ministers in Valencia, Spain.

"Trade now takes place in a world of increasing conflict, polarisation, concentration in the control of supply chains and critical raw materials, the use of energy as a strategic defensive or offensive tool, the undue use of subsidies and dumping, fierce industrial espionage and rising protectionism. The pandemic and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have only heightened these trends. We are living in an age of fragmented globalisation. Yet we must make sure that the medicine we administer to cure these ills does not make us and the rest of the world worse off."

"Looking ahead, the subject that is dominating the end of this legislature and that will likely continue to dominate the next one is “economic security”. No doubt, on the one hand the Union must chart its own path in the confrontation that pits the US against China. [...] My plea is to tread carefully. Our measures must be tailored, fact-based and surgical and we must always remember that the best way to lower risky economic dependencies is to diversify risks. We should not try to deal with the challenges in a purely defensive way, with decoupling, even friendshoring, with investment control internally and externally and a protectionist practices, no, offensively we should renew our infrastructure, promote targeted technologies, diversify our external relations and conclude bilateral fair trade agreements with reliable partners, establish sustainable partnerships and agree on global rules."

"The threat that is possibly most dangerous, is a risk of trade policy wounded by unilateral actions by individual Member States. The most egregious example of this has been the damaging saga concerning the suspension of import duties, quotas and trade defence measures on Ukrainian exports to the European Union. [...] Let me be clear that as Parliament we do not ever want to see a repeat of this egregious disrespect for Union legislation: we will not tolerate this behaviour from Member States again and we will expect the Commission to enforce Union legislation without hesitation. The precondition to deliver on an open, sustainable and assertive trade policy is to ensure that we keep our unity and that the decisions we have taken legally and democratically are respected first and foremost within our Union."


The Chair was invited to participate and deliver remarks at the dinner that precedes the informal Foreign Affairs Council of Trade ministers that takes place in Valencia on 20 October. This is a recurrent practice. At their informal meeting, EU trade ministers are expected to discuss the need to reorient trade policy to prevent the volatile global geopolitical situation from jeopardising the EU's economic security, and will also review the state of the EU's bilateral trade agenda.

Further information:

Office of Mr Bernd Lange (S&D, Germany), Chair of the Committee on International Trade, email: bernd.lange@europarl.europa.eu tel: +32 228 45 555

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