The Informal meeting of the Trade Ministers of the European Union is an opportunity for open, strategic discussions on the EU’s trade policy priorities.
It is held in Marseille on 13-14 February 2022.
Figures: in 2020, the EU’s trade totalled €3.646 trillion, making the Union the world’s second largest trading power. Within the EU, 38 million jobs depend on European exports, including more than 4 million in France.
In accordance with its priorities, focused on the implementation of an open, sustainable and assertive trade policy, the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union has chosen to dedicate the meeting to structural subjects for the future of the international trade framework and for the European Union’s trade relations with strategic partners.
The European Trade Ministers and the Executive Vice President of the European Commission will discuss the EU’s strategy for multilateral trade issues, ahead of the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference.
The defence of a stable, sustainable trade system based on fair rules is essential to avoid trade tensions and ensure the European Union’s prosperity. The EU’s engagement in multilateral negotiations is crucial to revitalize the WTO and spur on an ambitious reform of the Organization. This reform needs to ensure the application of existing rules, while also adapting them to current challenges in order to ensure fair competition in global trade and address environmental and public health crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Strategic reflection on strengthening trade and investment relations between the EU and African countries
Overhauling the partnership between the EU and Africa is a priority for the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, particularly ahead of the EU-AU Summit in Brussels on 17 and 18 February. The meeting in Marseille will shed light on the commercial aspects of this relationship, building on the momentum generated at the conference entitled “Trade relations between the EU and Africa: towards new partnerships” held in Paris on 10 January.
The United States remains a crucial partner for the European Union and strengthening transatlantic ties is also a priority of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The pace of transatlantic trade relations increased in 2021, in part thanks to the solutions found to the Airbus-Boeing dispute in the spring and to the additional duties on steel and aluminium in the autumn. The launch of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council, which met for the first time on 19 September 2021 in Pittsburgh, will help drive this momentum in transatlantic relations, enabling greater coordination on issues that are structural for the future of our economies, such as the rules of use of emerging technologies, their role as regards digital and climate issues, the resilience of value chains and global commercial issues.
In this context, the meeting in Marseille will be an opportunity for the EU Trade Ministers and the Trade Commissioner to together consider the next steps for the transatlantic relationship, including preparation for the second meeting of the US-EU Trade and Technology Council which should take place in France during the spring.