European Union - Franck Riester’s participation in the Foreign Affairs Council (Trade), (Brussels, 20 May 2021)


Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will take part in the Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) in Brussels tomorrow.

The discussions will focus first of all on the new trade strategy proposed by the European Commission on February 18, which the Council of the European Union should endorse through the Council’s conclusions. The minister delegate will stress the importance of the link between the EU’s trade agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, notably in terms of compliance with the Paris Agreement, and of European development tools to make our supply chains more sustainable and accountable. Franck Riester will notably reaffirm France’s position on the draft EU-Mercosur agreement, which cannot be ratified as it stands. He will also underscore the need to accelerate work on EU strategic autonomy and the strengthening of its instruments to combat unfair trade practices, notably in the run-up to the French presidency of the EU during the first half of 2022.

The Council of Ministers will discuss trade relations between the EU and the United States in the run-up to the next trans-Atlantic summit on June 15, with the participation via video conference of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. With respect to this matter, the minister delegate will commend the efforts of the European Commission to relaunch discussions with Washington in order to resolve trans-Atlantic trade disputes, notably with respect to the aerospace, steel and aluminum sectors. He will underscore the need for close dialogue between the EU and the United States on trade issues in order to help address key current issues, notably with respect to climate change, the fight against unfair practices and the relationship between trade and technology.

Lastly, the ministers will discuss preparations for the 12th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference scheduled to take place at the end of 2021 in Geneva, in the context of discussions with its director general, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who will be present in Brussels. Franck Riester will reaffirm the need to promote an open, stable and rules-based trade environment, with the WTO at its heart, in order to ensure the global economy’s resilience, ease trade tensions and address the challenges of ensuring a more sustainable and equitable approach to international trade. The minister delegate will support the European Commission’s ambition of contributing to WTO reform in order to re-establish its relevance as a forum for negotiation, transparency and trade dispute resolution.