The European Commission (EC) has presented a package of measures in the field of trade and investment with a view to achieving a balanced and progressive trade policy, calling also for reciprocity in trade agreements, the promotion of Community rules and values and fair conditions for competition.
The five proposals, presented by the EC last week in a communication entitled "A Balanced and Progressive Trade Policy to Take Advantage of Globalization", include the draft mandates to start trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, as well as the establishment of an advisory group on EU trade agreements which "will allow the European Commission to engage with civil society and gather more easily different perspectives and insights from a wide and balanced group of stakeholders, ranging from trade unions, employers' organisations, consumer groups and other non-governmental organisations."
Other measures included in the package are the creation of a European screening framework to ensure that foreign direct investment does not compromise the EU's strategic interests when it comes to security and public order and the creation of a multilateral investment court to settle disputes in the field of investments.
With regard to these measures, several representatives of the European Commission have made statements. President Jean-Claude Junquer has stated that the Commission wants to strengthen the trade agenda, "but we must demand reciprocity; we have to get what we give."
First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans said that to ensure "free and fair trade, we need to balance the opening of markets for trade and investment as key driver of our prosperity with international rules that uphold our high standards and common values and protect our interests."
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen states that "global trade needs to be proactively shaped and managed to ensure it is fair, projects values and remains firmly anchored in a rules-based system."
FEPEX fully shares these statements, since the horticultural sector is currently witnessing an asymmetric globalization, in which the Community market opens to imports from third countries, without them being required to comply with phytosanitary, environmental and social conditions demanded from Community producers. FEPEX hopes that the generic measures proposed and the declarations of intent from Community officials will be translated into concrete measures in the negotiations currently underway.