EU Statement
Geneva, 25 July 2001

Let me join others in welcoming your initiative to convene today's meeting. I also wish to pay tribute to the skill with with you have conducted the work of the General Council. Very happy to see many friends and colleagues from capitals. Good occasion to take stock.

I have listened with great interest to preceding speakers. We have, as you know, positions close to those put forward by Japan. I also wish, in particular, to welcome the very positive, constructive statement by Peter Allgeier, the representative of the United States. I find a great degree of commonality between our respective analyses and our conclusions on substance and future objectives for our common work, as well as in terms of process. At the recent summit meeting between the US and the EU, our leaders agreed on the common objective of launching a New and ambitious Round. Today, we have heard a detailed, substantive confirmation of that aim from the US, as you will also hear it from me in a moment. As Peter Allgeier said, we have a "common strategic objective". At the same time, one cannot stress strongly enough that the WTO is a truly multilateral organization. We cannot make decisions for other Members, but what we can do and should do is to demonstrate our willingness to take full account of the interests, aspirations and problems of all other participants in this vast, common enterprise.

This meeting is also a major opportunity to get beyond rhetoric, static positions, and make progress on the substantive agenda for Doha. The Community wishes to offer some thoughts on how one could construct an agenda for Doha that will reflect the broad interests of every constituency of the membership. I will at at the same time try to answer the points that Stuart Harbinson has, very usefully, suggested should guide our discussions.

1) Substance

Let me get straight down to the substance of the Doha declaration and of the Round that we would like to see launched at Doha. Like others we agree that the agenda must be balanced. That means that it must include enough issues of interest to all. And on that, the European Community accepts the principle of a "better balance" for developing countries with respect to their key economic and other interests. So, the focus today and from now on should be to define a balanced package that can attract support of all, and get a Round launched. This is, indeed, the best positive definition of a "realistic" or "manageable" agenda.

2) Approach

What should be the overall approach of the Doha declaration? We suggest a format and approach of the Punta Del Este type. In other words, to avoid pre-negotiating or pre-empting the negotiating outcomes, and to develop mandates that are short, general or permissive in their scope, not limiting except so as to provide safeguards, or parameters in areas of major sensitivity to one or the other Member of the WTO. Needless to say we wish to adhere to a single undertaking although as is well known we have suggested also the possibility of carefully limited exceptions in investment and competition.

3) Main Elements Between which an overall balance should be struck

What are the main elements among which an overall balance can be found? We believe there are four broad areas, encompassing both market access and rules-related issues, which are all currently on the table, which should all figure on agenda, and which all need to be given enough weight, so that an overall balance can be struck between them.

  1. the first element is market access: agriculture, industrial tariffs, services, and procurement;
  2. the second would encompass negotiations with a view to clarifying, updating and improving certain Uruguay Round Round agreements: trade defence rules; trade and the environment; TRIPs and various proposals made in the context of the implementation debate;
  3. the third element would be so-called Singapore issues, on which work has been carried out informally as well as within the relevant WTO bodies. Here I am talking about extension of rules to, notably, trade facilitation, investment, competition, and possibly e-commerce;
  4. and lastly, we should address institutional issues, including improvements to the functioning of WTO, such as transparency, capacity building, and improvements to the DSU.


Let me comment in more detail on each of these four areas, in terms of where we are, where we ourselves have moved, where we believe there is a need for flexibility and compromise between the Members, and where we think a balance should and could be found.

3a) Market Access first of all. Obviously of major interest to many members. The EU is very conscious of importance attached by net food exporting countries to improving agricultural market access and continued reduction of subsidies. The EU is also conscious of generalized wish to see the reduction of industrial tariffs where they constitute a hindrance to trade. On Services we all recognize that significant opportunities exist for further market opening. Lastly, Government Procurement is also important and we should foresee further market opening.

Across the field of market access, I recognize that many Members are probably expecting more from the EU than from any other participants. In any event, we are conscious that others are looking to the Community for a major contribution on market access, both on agricultural, services and industrial issues. We are ready to play our part if the overall balance is right.

3b) Let me turn next to Issue Revolving around existing WTO rules. EU is ready to support a negotiating mandate on such issues. We would not favour fundamental questioning or efforts to reopen existing agreement - but we would accept the negotiation of improvements within certain parameters and with the objective of greater clarity, predictability, trade openness and the avoidance of protectionism. Such an approach should, to be successful, have broad appeal to the Members and not create new imbalances or lead to any backward movement.

First, under this sub-heading, Implementation, which is of major importance for many participants, should certainly be part of this exercise. We expect implementation to feature on the Doha agenda and the European Community is prepared to contribute constructively in terms of accepting to address in negotiations issues still open. I would add here that we strongly support a good interim package at the July General council as well as, of course, further important decisions at Doha itself.

Secondly, still under the "Rules" heading, excessive recourse to trade remedies is, as Nogami-san just said, of great concern to several delegations. On environment and related health and safety issues, many concerns have been raised regarding the absence of clarity of WTO rules concerning environmental protection, health and safety. And within TRIPS, interest has been expressed in extending coverage to additional products, ensuring that the agreement keeps abreast of new technological and other developments, and examining the relationship between TRIPS and a number of other important issues.

As I said, we are willing to address all of these issues, with the aim of increasing predictability and avoiding protectionist abuse, and without questioning the basic principles of the existing agreements. On trade remedies, we are not, frankly, enthusiastic about a review as we see a potential gap between the ambitions of its proponents and our own preoccupations but we can accept the principle of such a review also to prove that we can practise what we preach in terms of an agenda sufficiently balanced for all. On the protection of the environment, health and safety, we see a need to clarify certain WTO provisions, in a way that addresses the legitimate concerns of all those to whom sustainable development is important and of exporters, including our own. This should be done without modifying the balance of existing WTO rules or introducing new barriers through the backdoor. This would also militate in favour of clarifying the role of precaution. On TRIPS we think there is the possibility of a balanced mandate of interest, one way or the other, to all. Last week's special session of the TRIPS Council was of exceptional interest and we are among those who believe that appropriate language on health needs to be developed in Doha.

3c) New issues, or "Singapore" issues. Investment and Competition are both indispensable to the European Community but also we believe in every-one's interest: they are systemic, not mercantilist or zero-sum issues. Investment for example is economically at least as much in the interests of capital importers as that of capital exporters. That has been clear from several years of experience of the GATS. And basic Competition rules are vital as a starting point to address private, ie non-governmental barriers to trade. We cannot imagine a Round without both issues. It is important to lay down some multilateral rules to ensure common approaches within carefully circumscribed parameters with which all Members would feel comfortable. In both areas we, and other proponents, have put forward proposals that explicitly address concerns raised by others, notably some developing countries. On investment for example, we now propose an approach based on the GATS, which focuses on Foreign Direct Investment and preserves the right of countries to regulate. On competition we have refined the proposed approach towards one which would be based on core principles, rather than harmonisation, with a strong focus on cooperation, including support for developing countries. We have also mooted the idea of a potential opt-out as a further insurance policy for developing country members that they would not be imposed upon - again a sign of flexibility.

As regards Trade facilitation, there does seem to be growing acceptance that this is ion every-one's interest: as a means to underpin market access, create a more level playing field for small companies, and to help governments maximise revenues and manage borders efficiently. A strong development component is justified, notably because this is an area where capacity building is key. At last, on E-commerce, we note a strong interest of many in this subject. We are open-minded on any clarification of WTO rules.

3d) A last important component of the Doha declaration would focus on certain Institutional Issues: not for negotiation in the classical sense, but Members may wish to introduce a number of improvements to the functioning of the WTO. First we would support measures to improve internal and external transparency, to ensure that all Members' interests are reflected and that WTO is better understood by the outside world. Any changes here should however be consistent with maintaining both efficiency and the intergovernmental nature of WTO. On the DSU there seems to be a general recognition that improvements are necessary and feasible. On capacity building, efforts are definitely needed to improve both the quality and quantuity of trade related capacity building and assistance, in cooperation with other agencies and donors.

4) I would specifically like to mention the current efforts by the ILO Secretary General to strengthen the role of its Working Party to establish a high-level and ongoing dialogue on the social dimensions of globalisation. That process received support by ILO members at the 19 June Working Party meeting and we hope it can take more concrete form soon so as to establish a forum for wide-ranging, permanent dialogue between all interested parties in the ILO, including al relevant international organisations. We should seek international consensus on this issue. We firmly repeat our opposition to any initiative that would use labour rights for protectionist purposes or that put into question the comparative advantage of low-wage developing countries.

Finally, Chairman, some Comments on Process: We have every confidence that you will continue to maintain an open consultative process, until Doha, and indeed beyond. We need to continue on this basis and intensify our work. We agree that a further stocktaking in late July will be helpful in order to allow all Members to review their positions in time for subsequent, intensive work in the lead-up to Doha, based on the principle that a truly "balanced" agenda is one which contains substantial benefits for all.

Thank you.

CPT Home IP and Healthcare CPT page on the WTO CPT page on Doha Ministerial