Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, was in Berlin on September 20-21 for the meeting of EU trade ministers.
The ministers addressed the reassessment of the EU trade policy, which must respond to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis and allow us to better meet expectations: the economic recovery, securing supply chains, greater consideration given to sustainable development and the fight against climate change, and European economic sovereignty in a less cooperative international context. France championed in particular the vision of a more united trade policy that is more demanding with respect to our partners’ commitments on sustainable development and the fight against climate change. It stressed the need to strengthen EU instruments to guarantee fair trade conditions with third countries, especially with regard to access to government procurement and foreign subsidies.
The ministers also discussed the situation of the European steel industry in order to respond to serious disruptions in the European market linked in particular to the development of overcapacity in emerging countries, and to lay the groundwork for fairer competition. France called for mobilizing all of the EU’s trade defense instruments to protect the sector and to proactively prepare for the upcoming expiration of European safeguards. The Minister Delegate also stressed the need to continue actively supporting the Global Forum’s work on overcapacity and championed the implementation of a carbon adjustment mechanism at the EU’s borders to combat carbon leakage and help enhance the EU’s climate ambitions.
Finally, the ministers also discussed the process for selecting the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the context of the organization’s necessary reform. Mr. Riester called for promoting an individual whose skills, political clout and independence would facilitate WTO reform and restore trust in the multilateral trading system.