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EU Foreign Affairs Council

Volume 569: debated on Monday 28 October 2013

My noble Friend the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, has made the following statement:

The EU Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) took place in Luxembourg on 18 October 2013.

Sir John Cunliffe (UK Representative to the European Union) and I represented the UK on all the issues discussed at the meeting. A summary of those discussions follows.

Financial Responsibility for Investor State Dispute Settlement

The presidency reported that their compromise text had been adopted by member states during the previous week and would now form the Council position for negotiations with the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Eastern Partnership Summit

The presidency highlighted the importance of strengthening the EU’s economic links with Eastern Partners. They would therefore include deep and comprehensive free trade agreements with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as part of wider association agreements with those countries and present these at the Eastern Partnership summit in November. Member states agreed that, provided the relevant political obligations were met, the Ukraine agreement could be presented for signature and those with Moldova and Georgia for initialling.

Adoption of the EU/China and EU/ASEAN Negotiations on investment

Council adopted the presidency’s compromise mandates on both the China investment agreement and Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) investment agreement without debate.

Declassification of the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiating Directives

The presidency reported that there was no consensus in favour of declassification of the TTIP mandate. Therefore the mandate will remain a classified EU document.

State of play on preparations for the IX World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference (Bali, 3-6 December 2013)

The Commission reported accelerated progress in Geneva since September; new WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo was bringing energy to the negotiations. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht underlined that considerable effort would still be required to secure agreement at December’s ministerial conference in Bali. In the debate the UK was joined by other like-minded member states (Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Malta) in urging flexibility in order to secure a deal and in highlighting the economic benefits to the EU.

China anti-dumping measures on wine

The Commission felt the case was politically motivated, providing the Chinese with balance in the face of other high-profile disputes and the upcoming investment agreement negotiations. Progress had been limited since the summer, when China agreed not to introduce duties before the end of the formal investigation period in June 2014. At the EU/China high-level economic and trade dialogue the Commission would insist on starting formal negotiations, and would push hard to reach an early resolution.

Lunch: TTIP and Japan negotiations; Canada

Ministers received an update on both the TTIP and Japan negotiations over a private lunch which otherwise concentrated on the Canada deal which was being simultaneously concluded by President Barosso and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Brussels. This long awaited conclusion was unanimously and warmly welcomed.