A week working for transparency in trade negotiations (31 October 2014)
On Friday 21 November 2014, the council of European [foreign trade] ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
With this meeting in mind, M. Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, convened the strategic follow-up committee this week, which he wished to overhaul in order to involve – alongside members of Parliament – representatives of civil society, unions, non-governmental organizations and professional federations. In line with his hearing before the National Assembly Foreign and European Affairs Committee on Wednesday 29 October 2014, the Minister of State discussed the main issues at stake in the trade negotiations under way: public services, the protection of collective preferences (health, social and environmental standards), cultural diversity, non-tariff barriers, access to procurement contracts and the promotion of geographical indications. He also spoke about the specific challenge represented by dispute settlement mechanisms. In addition, a question and answer session on the social network Twitter was organized on the same day, to answer Internet users’ queries.
During the discussions, M. Matthias Fekl announced:
That the strategic follow-up committee will be overhauled, to make it a working and debating body. Sectoral and thematic working groups will be formed to prepare the plenary sessions. To build on the knowledge of the strategic follow-up committee’s members, the government departments will organize technical seminars.
That a page will be created on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development’s website specifically dedicated to trade policy issues, in order to make clear, high-quality information available and report on the strategic follow-up committee’s work.
That existing or future assessments will be put online, in order to make available all the information needed to clarify the debate.
Finally, it was suggested that an annual strategic report on European trade policy and the French stance should from now on be prepared and made public by the first quarter of 2015.