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On 12 October 2020, the European Parliament's Committee on International Trade for the fifth time invited guests to the Trade Policy Day. Within the scope of this event, MEPs, scientists and stakeholders discussed what a new EU trade policy should look like after the Coronavirus crisis.

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Following the resignation of former Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, the Commission has reassigned two portfolios. Whilst in future, Vice Commission President Valdis Dombrovskis will also be responsible for trade policy, the Irish politician Mairead McGuinness will assume the financial services portfolio.

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The so-called “Golfgate” scandal has terminated the tenure of EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan following his appointment only just a year earlier. His responsibilities will be assumed by Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. However, it is currently uncertain, what will happen to the two major Free Trade Agreements EU-Mercosur and CETA.

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Within the scope of the Generalized System of Preferences, the EU enables economically weaker third countries facilitated access to the European Single Market. In exchange, these countries are expected to promote human rights, sustainability and good governance. However, criticism has time and again levelled at this instrument and its implementation.

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Time and again, attempts have been made within the framework of trade and investment agreements to curtail government options as regards to regulations in the public interest. Concerning the EU trade policy review by the European Commission, it should be made clear that public services have to be excluded from trade agreements.

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We are pleased to invite to an online meeting on “GATS reloaded: securing the public interest in global trade in services negotiations”, organised by EPSU, AK EUROPA and ÖGB Europabüro.

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On 5 May 2020, 23 EU Member States signed an agreement for the termination of intra-EU Bilateral Investment Treaties – an important step towards a fairer Internal Market. However, Austria is one of only four countries that do not participate in the common agreement, which at last will put a stop to the controversial special suing rights for investors.

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Following the United Kingdom’s official withdrawal from the European Union at the end of January 2020, the negotiations on a future trade agreement started on Monday, 2nd March. The Chamber of Labour is determined: BREXIT must not be at the expense of the workforce!

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On Wednesday, 12 February 2020, the EU Parliament ratified the controversial Trade and Investment Agreement with Vietnam. However, simultaneously, the example of Cambodia demonstrates how hesitantly the EU acts with regard to imposing sanctions as a response to human rights violations. Meanwhile, 847,000 Europeans advocate an end of the ISDS system and the special suing rights for corporations associated with it.

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Over the coming weeks, the European Parliament, first the Trade Committee and then the plenary of all MEPs, will decide on the planned trade and investment protection agreement of the EU with Vietnam. However, in a joint letter AK President, Renate Anderl, and ÖGB President, Wolfgang Katzian, have already warned MEPs against the serious consequences of the planned agreements.