Past Event

Past, present, and future EU trade policy: a conversation with Commissioner Malmström

What was trade policy during the last European Commission? What will be the future of European trade under the next Commission?

Date: June 13, 2019, 8:30 am Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

video & audio recordings

summary

During this event, European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström joined Bruegel Senior Fellow André Sapir for a conversation centered around trade policy. As one Commission reaches the end of its term, the EU finds itself entering a new chapter of policymaking and priorities. With the European elections, and the formation of a new administration, questions arise surrounding the agenda concerning trade in the new European Parliament. 

The conversation started with Malmström making the observation that the WTO and multilateral systems are under attack such as increased unilateral actions being taken and protectionism. According to the Commissioner, part of the reason to these attacks can be viewed as a failure of the WTO to deliver for developing countries. Another issue Malmström raised is the number of countries that are classified as developing countries. Currently two-thirds of WTO members classify themselves as developing. Malmström proposes a system is needed to graduate countries that are currently classified as developing to reclassify themselves as developed. Malmström discussed the need for is writing new rules within the multilateral system to address state capitalism countries like China. The Commissioner views most urgent issue is the applet body where the USA has been blocking the appointment of the arbitrators because if the nothing happens, unfortunately likely, The WTO will die on the 12th of December. The driving force behind the USA’s complaint is the perceived overreach of the judges, despite the fact that the USA has won 86% of their cases. Malmström notes in case of a WTO collapse there are measures currently being discussed such as a parallel system without the USA or a bilateral conflict resolution based on current statutes of the WTO. Guntram makes the point that bilateral trade agreements can be an insurance policy in case of the WTO breaking up. Malmström argued that reforming the WTO from within is the best option and not to let it collapse and hope something arises. The Commissioner fears that a world without a multilateral system will be a jungle with the strongest prevailing.
The discussion then turned to the USA and China. The USA frustration with China over steel is a frustration that Europeans also share, but the Commissioner does not understand the notion that European allies, many European countries are NATO members, are a security threat to the USA through the European’s steel and car exports. The methods of the USA are not appropriate or legal according to Malmström. The EU doesn’t use methods like the USA but have sharpened their trade defence instruments such as an investment screening mechanism. One step that has been taken is, with the USA and Japan, the EU are trying to draft new rules to engage with China and others. On China, the Commissioner asserted that China has benefited immensely from the multilateral system and China wants to preserver it. Therefore, China should take more of a leading role. Malmström stresses that the EU should not be a mediator between China and other countries. The Commissioner views China as rival for the EU but also a partner.

Malmström highlighted the success the EU has had on trade agreements with likeminded countries such as Canada and Japan. As well, negotiations with the USA on conformity assessment, WTO reforms, and industrial goods have started and progress is being made. Such agreements are beneficial for both sides as the USA and EU trade “every second” but it could be easier.

Malmström stressed that for the next parliament climate change will be a pressing issue. Malmström personally views a carbon tax as a good idea, but implementation will be complicated and there will be a need for a border adjustment tax. The Commissioner lamented the pause on the plurilateral initiative, called the environmental goods agreement, that would take away tariffs on environmentally friendly goods and techniques.

Some closing remarks that the Commissioner provided were that the EU trade agenda has strong support and unity between EU member states, that a trade agreement with Latin American countries can be reached before the end of this current administration, and Malmström’s advice to the next European Commissioner for Trade is never under estimate the European parliament.

Notes by Akira Soto

Schedule

Jun 13, 2019

08.30-09.00

Check-in and breakfast

09.00-09.05

Welcome remarks

Guntram B. Wolff, Director

09.05-09.45

Conversation

Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade

André Sapir, Senior Fellow

09.45-10.00

Q&A

10.00

End

Speakers

Cecilia Malmström

European Commissioner for Trade

André Sapir

Senior Fellow

Guntram B. Wolff

Director

Location & Contact

Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels

Katja Knezevic

katja.knezevic@bruegel.org

Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Role of national structural reforms in enhancing resilience in the Euro Area

At this event Gita Gopinath, Chief Economist at the IMF will discuss the role of national structural reforms in enhancing resilience in the Euro Area.

Speakers: Shekhar Aiyar, Maria Demertzis, Romain Duval, Gita Gopinath and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 17, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Jun
19
12:30

What reforms for Europe's Monetary Union: a view from Spain

How is a successful European Monetary Union still possible in today's ever-shifting political landscape? What reforms need to occur in order to guarantee success of cohesive policies?

Speakers: Fernando Fernández, José Carlos García de Quevedo, Gabriele Giudice, Inês Goncalves Raposo, Javier Méndez Llera and Isabel Riaño Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Jun
25
08:30

How comprehensive is the EU political realignment?

Has the left-right divide become obsolete in EU politics?

Speakers: David Amiel, Otilia Dhand, Nicolas Véron and Silke Wettach Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Brief

A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership

Memo to the presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament. 'A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership' by Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram Wolff is the first of our 2019 Bruegel memos to the new presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament. Focusing on the most important economic questions at EU level, these Bruegel memos are intended to be a strategic to-do list, outlining the state of affairs that will greet the new Commission.

By: Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 13, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Working Paper

China and the world trade organisation: towards a better fit

China’s participation in the WTO has been anything but smooth, as its self-proclaimed socialist market economy system has alienated its trading partners. The WTO needs to translate some of its implicit legal understanding into explicit treaty language, in order to retain its principles while accommodating China.

By: Petros C. Mavroidis and André Sapir Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: June 13, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

External Publication

Effectiveness of cohesion policy: learning from the project characteristics that produce the best results

This study by Zsolt Darvas, Antoine Mathieu Collin, Jan Mazza, and Catarina Midões analyses the characteristics of cohesion policy projects that can contribute to successful outcomes. Their analysis is based on a literature survey, an econometric analysis and interviews with stakeholders. About two dozen project characteristics are considered, and their association with economic growth is studied using a novel methodology. Based on the findings, the study concludes with recommendations for cohesion policy reform.

By: Zsolt Darvas, Antoine Mathieu Collin, Jan Mazza and Catarina Midoes Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 11, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

EU-LAC Economic Forum 2019: New perspectives in turbulent times

The third edition of the EU-LAC Economic Forum.

Speakers: Diego Acosta Arcarazo, Ignacio Corlazzoli, Maria Demertzis, Mauricio Escanero Figueroa, Alicia García-Herrero, Carmen González Enríquez, Bert Hoffmann, Edita Hrdá, Matthias Jorgensen, Juan Jung, Tobias Lenz, Carlos Malamud, J. Scott Marcus, Elena Pisonero, Belén Romana and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 11, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Jul
12
09:30

The 4th industrial revolution: opportunities and challenges for Europe and China

What is the current status of EU-China relations concerning innovation, and what might their future look like?

Speakers: Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Chen Dongxiao, Eric Cornuel, Ding Yuan, Jiang Jianqing, Pascal Lamy, Li Mingjun, Signe Ratso, Reinhilde Veugelers, Wang Hongjian, Guntram B. Wolff and Xu Bin Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Read article More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

Liability: When Things Go Wrong in an Increasingly Interconnected and Autonomous World: A European View

In the following article, Scott Marcus first considers the sources of potential defects and what might be done to redress them. He then goes on to consider what constitutes a product defect as well as the associated liability in light of recent (and potential future) EU Directives.

By: J. Scott Marcus Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: June 6, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Europe’s citizens say they want a more political EU

The recent European Parliament election suggests that a growing share of European voters sees things differently from national governments. Whereas citizens clearly used their votes to express policy preferences, very few governments are ready for a more political EU leadership.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 4, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The 'seven' ceiling: China's yuan in trade talks

Investors and the public have been looking at the renminbi with caution after the Trump administration threatened to increase duties on countries that intervene in the markets to devalue/undervalue their currency relative to the dollar. The fear is that China could weaponise its currency following the further increase in tariffs imposed by the United States in early May. What is the likelihood of this happening and what would be the consequences for the existing tensions with the United States, as well as for the global economy?

By: Inês Goncalves Raposo Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: June 3, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

European Parliament election results: The long view

Following the latest European elections, the author updates his previous analysis of trends in the share of European Parliament seats among ‘mainstream’ and ‘non-mainstream’ parties.

By: Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 29, 2019
Load more posts