Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State, took part in the Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) in Brussels on May 22.
The agenda included several topics:
1) The Council was called upon to adopt the negotiation mandates for trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand. These negotiations, supported by France, will make it possible to strengthen economic and trade ties with important partners of the EU in the Asia-Pacific region. As part of this process, France will be especially vigilant in ensuring that our agricultural concerns, the impact of the agreement on the overseas countries and territories, as well as sustainable development issues, are taken into account.
2) Conclusions were adopted on establishing a new framework for the negotiation and approval of trade agreements, following the European Court of Justice’s opinion on the EU-Singapore agreement. Within the framework of the new architecture of the agreements proposed by the Commission, France welcomes the commitments undertaken to build confidence, with respect to transparency vis-à-vis civil society and the national Parliaments, the regular review of mandates, the taking into account of agricultural concerns and the implementation of trade commitments.
3) The meeting was also aimed at providing an opportunity for a discussion between the ministers on issues relating to the WTO following the ministerial conference in Buenos Aires, in the face of the difficulties it is encountering with respect to its negotiating and dispute resolution functions. France believes that it is necessary to envisage ambitious solutions to support and renew the multilateral system and supports the Commission in its initiatives.
4) This meeting also provided an opportunity to present the timetable for signing agreements with Japan and Singapore. Progress on the trade negotiations with Mexico, Mercosur, Chile and Vietnam was also reviewed.
At the lunch devoted to trade relations with the United States, Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed the need for the EU, as an ally of the United States, to receive an unlimited and permanent exemption from the measures taken by the U.S. authorities in the steel and aluminum sectors. He also underscored the importance of handling all these issues with the United States – including the overcapacity issues and trade-distorting practices at the global level – within the framework of the WTO’s multilateral trading system.
During this visit, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne met with his German, Spanish and Italian counterparts.