Tidsandan speglas i von der Leyens intruktioner till Hogan

Hyggligt men utan tydlig inriktning. Mer WTO och Afrika i handelspolitiken, men också ambitioner om en rad andra hänsyn som riskerar i att ta över i instruktionerna till Phil Hogan. 

Ursula von der Leyen har skrivit sina instruktioner till den blivande handelskommissionären Phil Hogan.

Inga betydande överraskningar. Instruktionerna speglar väl det rådande politiska klimatet i EU.

Positiva inslag:

  • Instruktionen speglar en allmänt positiv inställning till handel. Det är inte otänkbart i dagens opinionsklimat med en betoning av självförsörjning och isolering.
  • Den betonar vikten av WTO och dess utveckling. Viktigt idag är WTO ifrågasätts, ofta från utgångspunkten att frihandelsförhandlingarna har gått dåligt i två decennier. Men WTO gör andra saker för att stödja världshandeln och framför allt är det inte WTO:s fel att organisationens medlemsländer inte kan komma överens.
  • Den betonar vikten av regelstyrd global handel.
  • Den nämner särskilt Afrika.

Negativa inslag:

  • Ambitionen att stärka EU:s möjligheter att införa handelshinder.
  • Att inget försök görs att stärka kommissionen i handelsfrågor. Istället betonas parlamentets roll.
  • Att handelsfrågorna allt mer blandas ihop med sociala frågor och miljöambitioner. De båda punkterna är viktiga, men det finns skäl att skilja de olika politikområdena åt. När långsiktiga handelsfrågor ställs mot mer populistiska och känslomässiga frågor är det stor risk att frihandeln blir en restpost när alla andra hänsyn är tagna. Det finns starka krafter som vill sätta käppar i hjulet för global handel även om de inte vill säga det rakt ut av oro för att bli förknippade med Donald Trump.

Nedan den del av texten som berör specifikt handel. Hela brevet här.

Your mission

I would like to entrust you with the role of Commissioner for Trade.

The European Union is the world’s trading superpower. Our trade policy opens up
opportunities and access for our companies to sell their goods and services around the
world. It creates growth and jobs here in Europe and delivers prosperity elsewhere. But
trade is more than simply the exchange of goods and services. It is also a strategic asset
for Europe. It allows us to build partnerships, protect our market from unfair practices and
ensure our values and our standards are respected.

A level playing field for all

Europe’s place is at the heart of the rules-based multilateral system. We must now
also be at the heart of efforts to update and upgrade it for the modern economy. Open and
fair trade must be based on global rules that are effective, enforceable and create a level
playing field for all.

 A top priority will be to lead the reform of the World Trade Organization,
notably on the issues of subsidies, forced transfer of technologies and dispute
settlement. You should aim to launch a broad initiative by the end of 2020,
following the next WTO Ministerial Conference, with a view to reaching a
comprehensive agreement by 2022.

 I want you to give further impetus to WTO negotiations on e-commerce, to
harness the full potential of data, address barriers and enhance consumer and
business trust.

 In parallel, I would like you to lead the work on strengthening Europe’s ability to
protect itself from unfair trade practices. This means making better use of our
trade defence instruments, seeking a level playing field in procurement and
implementing the new system for screening Foreign Direct Investment.

 In addition, I want you to look at how we can strengthen our trade toolbox. This
should include upgrading the EU’s Enforcement Regulation to allow us to use
sanctions when others adopt illegal measures and simultaneously block the WTO
dispute settlement process. You should work with the Executive Vice-President for a
Europe fit for the Digital Age to address the distortive effects of foreign subsidies in
the internal market.

The College will appoint a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer to work under your direct
guidance to monitor and improve the compliance of our trade agreements. He or she will
report regularly on the state of play and keep the European Parliament and the Council
abreast of all developments.

Strengthening Europe’s global leadership

Over the next five years, I want you to lead the work to strengthen Europe’s global
leadership in trade:

 You will work towards a positive, balanced and mutually beneficial trading
partnership with the United States.

 You will step up negotiations with China on a Comprehensive Agreement on
Investment, with the aim of reaching an agreement by the end of 2020.

 I want you to prioritise our trade and investment partnership with Africa. The
implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement should be seen as
a step towards our long-term objective of a continent-to-continent free trade area
between Africa and the EU.

 You will take forward the finalisation of trade agreements already negotiated. You
will lead the work on concluding ongoing negotiations, notably with Australia
and New Zealand. Where conditions are met you will propose to open negotiations
on new bilateral or multilateral agreements. Where relevant, you will work closely
with the Commissioner for Agriculture.

Trade for sustainable development and climate action

You will use our trade tools to support sustainable development. Every new trade
agreement concluded will have a dedicated chapter on sustainable development.

 Working with the Chief Enforcement Officer, you will closely monitor the
implementation of climate, environmental and labour protections enshrined
in our trade agreements, with a zero-tolerance approach to child labour.

 I would like you to contribute to the design and introduction of the Carbon Border
Tax, working closely with the Commissioner for the Economy. The Carbon Border
Tax should be fully compliant with WTO rules.

Making trade more transparent

You will ensure the highest levels of transparency and communication with the European
Parliament, the Council and civil society. You will ensure regular briefings are provided to
the European Parliament before and after each round of talks. Trade agreements should
only provisionally be applied once the Parliament has given its consent. In the same spirit, I
want you to step up our engagement with Member States.

More engagement and better communication will be an important asset in debunking
myths and ensuring that our trade policy responds to citizens’ concerns.
As a rule, you will work under the guidance of the Executive Vice-President for an Economy
that Works for People. The Directorate-General for Trade will support you in your work.

The way forward

The mission outlined above is not exhaustive or prescriptive. Other opportunities and
challenges will no doubt appear over the course of the next five years. On all of these
issues, I will ask you to work closely with me, and with other Members of the College.
Once there is more clarity, we should be ready to pave the way for an ambitious and
strategic partnership with the United Kingdom.

I look forward to working closely together at what is an exciting and testing time for our
Union. You can of course count on my full personal and political support ahead of your
hearing at the European Parliament and throughout our mandate.