Commissioner Malmström also attended a similar meeting of the Parliamentary Committee in February 2016. She stated that even though a lot had happened since then, including Brexit and new global protectionist trade sentiments, the core of EU trade policy was still transparency, ensuring sustainable development and predictable conditions for SMEs. She also stated that “we [the EU] want to show that in a time when some build walls, we build bridges”, emphasising the EU's goal that everyone involved should have a feeling of benefiting from trade, avoiding there being “some winners and some losers”.
On the extensive agenda was the issue of Brexit and the potential implications for the EFTA States in the coming processes and outcome of the forthcoming negotiations. UK Members of the European Parliament, Ms Catherine Stihler of the Socialists and Democrats, and Mr Ian Duncan of the European Conservative and Reformists, shared some of their thoughts on the role and view of the European Parliament ahead of the upcoming Brexit negotiations. Mr Duncan stressed that “a bad deal for the UK is a bad deal for the EU”.
The Committee also met with Mr Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, to hear about current developments in global trade. Mr Lee-Makiyama underlined the challenges of going into any negotiations with existing templates in mind and that the current trade situation with ongoing political changes prompted a need to rethink trade negotiation strategies.
In their meeting with Mr Doru Frantescu, CEO of VoteWatch Europe, members of the Committee received information on how the political volatility of 2017 was impacting the trade agenda of the EU and voting patterns, and increasing influence on trade over time in the European Parliament. He also outlined the varying interests in several sectors from EU Member State to Member State. Mr Bernd Lange, Chair of the Committee on International Trade, also gave an update on the state of play of EU trade policy as seen from the European Parliament, stressing that current tendencies in global trade were uncovering a need to make necessary changes to the process of EU trade policy. He said that “we have to guarantee not only free trade but also fair trade in trade agreements”.
The meeting was led by the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee, Mr Svein Roald Hansen. This was the first such event in which the newly appointed delegation of the Icelandic Althingi had participated, where four of the five members started in 2017.