EU ZMK's Diary

Genval, 13. January, 2016 – The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organised a public hearing today where civil society and business representatives had the chance to exchange views on the so-called ‘Trade for all’ EU Strategy. As regards Public Health, the EU Trade Policy has a major impact on our well-being and I did my best to explain why is it harmful that the new EU International Trade Strategy fails to guarantee health protection.

After the hearing, I was reflecting on how the discussion went. The panel was composed of around 10 speakers and half of them were members – or alternate members – of the TTIP Advisory Group – including myself. During the hearing I had the feeling that I was in a parliamentary environment: Members of the EESC were sitting in front of us, and they were listening to us to collect inputs before deciding on the EESC opinion on the EU Trade Strategy.

I also found ironic that while the Commission has exclusive competence on Trade negotiations – meaning that Member States are not allowed to conduct individual Trade agreements – still that strategy is a Communications, which is a non-binding political declaration only.

And what did I say at the end? Here are some of my key messages:

I must admit that the Commission representative did a decent job by defending the Strategy and gaving professional answers. However, as the chair noted, we did not expect her to answer all of our concerns but to take notes and bring back the message to the administration and to the political masters in order to fill the identified gaps in the strategy.

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