EU news – Post date: July 8th, 2020.

Consultation on EU Trade Policy Review

The European Commission has launched a major review of the European Union’s trade policy, including a public consultation seeking input from the European Parliament, Member States, stakeholders and civil society (EC Press Release, 16 June). The objective is to build a consensus around a fresh medium-term direction for EU trade policy, responding to a variety of new global challenges and taking into account the lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis. The consultation covers all topics relevant to EU trade policy, with a special focus on:

  • Building a resilient and sustainable EU economy after the coronavirus
  • Reforming the World Trade Organization
  • Creating global trade opportunities for businesses and in particular small and medium sized enterprises
  • Maximising the contribution of trade policy to addressing key global challenges such as climate change, sustainable development or the digital transition
  • Strengthening trade and investment relationships with key trading partners
  • Improving the level playing field and protecting EU business and citizens.

Written comments can be submitted up to 15 September 2020.

The next generation of Africa EU relations

As Africa and Europe seek to re-set their partnership in the face of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, met with young people, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to discuss EU-Africa cooperation (European Commission, 30 June). The debate, hosted by the think tank Friends of Europe, is the first of a series of youth- and citizen-led virtual discussions on the vision and priorities of both Africa and Europe in line with the core themes of the EU’s Joint Communication “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa”.

“The idea is to have an open dialogue with citizens, governments, youth and civil society from Africa and Europe on the renewed Africa-EU partnership. As we wage a battle against a virus and recover from the economic and social shock of months of lockdown, now more than ever, we need each other. We need solid international partnerships.”, Jutta Urpilainen said.

A series of dialogues will follow this kick-off event, focusing on different aspects of the Africa-EU Partnership, and a range of EU Commissioners will be invited. These dialogues and reflections will feed into the process leading up to the EU-African Union Summit in October 2020 and help to refine the formulation of joint priorities.

Young people who contributed to this first online meeting discussed how young people’s voices can feed into AU-EU decision-making in a more structured way. Jutta Urpilainen mentioned that she herself was only 27 when first elected to the Finnish parliament, and strongly believes that it is important to engage with young people in political processes. She has the aim of always meeting with young people when visiting a partner country, for example on her recent Humanitarian Air Bridge flight to Burkina Faso. The title “Commissioner for International Partnerships” is new, intented to reflect equal partnerships rather than a donor-beneficiary relationship.

The Commissioner mentioned that the Post-Cotonou negotiations are making good progress, with around 95% of the agreement text already endorsed. The intention is to conclude negotiations by mid-July.

European Organic Congress 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its uncertain effects for the near future, IFOAM Organic Europe and organising partner BÖLW moved this year’s European Organic Congress online. During the digital Congress, held 1–3 July, policy-makers and expert speakers discussed the latest policy developments, provided a platform for exchange, and discussed visions for a post-pandemic Europe. Topics covered included the EU Organic Regulation, an Organic Action Plan, the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, and the Farm to Fork Strategy as well as possible scenarios for a European food and farming system. All of the 2020 sessions will be recorded and shared on the European Organic Congress website.

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