Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-05-22-Speech-2-016"

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". Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, this European Union of ours, being the biggest single market in the world, carries, globally speaking, particular weight, and, if we are to remain internationally successful, we have to create the right framework conditions at home, while also organising our external trade policy in such a way that takes adequate account of our own economic interests. It was in October 2006 that the Commission set out its thinking on a trade strategy of this kind, in its communication ‘Global Europe: competing in the world’. This report by the Committee on International Trade is not intended as a riposte to that, but is meant to adjust certain priorities, for the Commission – and you, too, Commissioner – must have the right priorities rather than pursuing short-term results. Everyone gains from the opening up of our trading partners’ markets; the European Union is a very good example of just how successful open markets are, and it is the World Trade Organisation, the WTO, that offers the best machinery currently available for opening them up. The goal of multilateral trade liberalisation within the WTO framework must be that of making great forward strides in the current trade round, despite all the difficulties associated with it; even though the prospects for a successful completion are certainly not the best, we in the European Union should continue to do all in our power to make it a success, for bilateral or regional free trade agreements are no more than the second-best option or even emergency solutions, given the multifarious disadvantages associated with them. If free trade agreements are to be concluded, then certain conditions need to apply: for a start, the choice of free trade agreements needs to be limited to the states or economic regions with which our competitors have already concluded an agreement or are in the process of negotiating one; secondly, the scope of such a free trade agreement should go well beyond the WTO topics, and we in the European Union should also, additionally, endeavour to entrench in this free trade agreement standards agreed plurilaterally on the broadest possible basis. I am thinking, for example, of rules of origin, which are negotiated in different ways in every free trade agreement and are scarcely applicable to our small and medium-sized businesses, more and more of which are seizing the opportunities afforded by globalisation and exporting their products. In the past, alas, other political goals were prioritised at the cost of trade policy, and so we should, in future, avoid burdening trade policy with irrelevant issues, while, at the same time, taking care that the existing rules, to which we and our trading partners have agreed are actually complied with. This is particularly the case as regards intellectual property, with its many instances of existing law and contractual agreements being no more than inadequately applied or even of their application being actively frustrated. The European Union’s trade protection instruments, the anti-dumping rules in particular, offer protection against unfair trading practices. I would like to point out that a very broad majority in the Committee on Trade concurred with me that there is at present no need for the revision of the trade protection instruments advocated by the Commission. We should not pre-empt the outcomes of talks within the WTO, however difficult they may at present be; the European Union’s trade protection instruments have, by and large, proved their worth, and are not, at present, in need of any modification. Now that tariffs are being reduced, other forms of obstacles to trade are gaining in importance. For example, anti-terror measures in all economic areas must not become the 21st century’s non-tariff barrier to trade, and regulation, too, plays an important part in this, so we must do more to make our internal rules and regulations compatible with the rules of our main trading partners. It is for that reason in particular that I firmly support cooperation with the United States and the efforts made over recent weeks. I am highly confident that we will be able to make proper use of the opportunities afforded by global markets for our own benefit and for that of other countries, be they in the process of development or already industrialised, provided that the right priorities are set. People in Europe and around the world will feel the positive effects of this, and I am very grateful to the Members, the Committee Secretariat and the staff of the groups for making it possible for us, in the course of the past few weeks, to draw up a report that I believe might well find a broad majority in this House when it comes to the final vote. I extend warm thanks to them for their cooperation, and also to the Commission for taking our suggestions on board."@en1

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