On 5 October 2020, Irish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Barry Andrews of the Renew Europe Group, filed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“In his hearing at Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, Commissioner-designate Dombrovskis said that, if approved, he would bring forward a new initiative on climate and trade that addresses trade in both goods and services.
From July 2014 to December 2016, the EU sought to negotiate a plurilateral trade agreement at the World Trade Organization to liberalise trade in environmental goods. The parties failed to reach an agreement and negotiations have not resumed since.
1. Can the Commission provide some more information regarding what form the climate and trade initiative will take?
2. What is the planned timeline for this initiative?
3. How does it propose to resolve the issues from the previous negotiations in this new initiative?”
On 8 January 2021, Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis responded on behalf of the European Commission stating:
“The Commission has started a reflection process on a possible trade and climate initiative in the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It could focus on facilitation of trade in goods and services that mitigate climate change. It could also encompass other building blocks such as development, transparency on domestic measures, and could enhance the role of the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment. The Commission aims to promote a multilateral initiative with several building blocks under a coherent ‘green’ umbrella. WTO members could participate in one or more blocks, allowing for a flexible approach to make progress.
A trade and climate initiative in the WTO would also take into account the lessons learned from negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement (EGA). On that basis, the Commission would propose a different approach. On the one hand, a broad multilateral initiative encompassing more elements than the EGA could be included: building blocks around goods, services, transparency, development, and strengthening the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment. On the other hand, the initiative would have a more focused approach on goods and services for climate mitigation, compared to the EGA. This approach should encourage more WTO members to join the initiative and avoid difficulties in reaching an agreement on a wide list of products where members have conflicting interests.
The Commission intends to reach out to like-minded WTO Members to gather their views on the proposed approach. The objective is to launch the initiative with a sufficiently critical mass of members at the next WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12).”
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