The International Trade Committee questioned Phil Hogan, candidate for the trade portfolio, on future trade deals and the respect of EU values.
Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Commissioner-designate Hogan.
Trade based on rules and fairness
During his introductory speech, Mr Hogan called trade the “lifeblood of the European economy” that must provide real opportunities to Europeans, but “must also promote values, including climate action, sustainable development, labour rights, and women’s empowerment”. The Irishman spoke in favour of a stable, predictable and rules-based multilateral trading system that focusses on climate action. The reform of the WTO is essential, he added
MEPs put forward questions on the EU-US trade relationship and possible ways ahead given the reluctance of the transatlantic partner to engage and the USA’s willingness to impose tariffs. Several MEPs emphasised Parliament’s demand to see EU trade deals better implemented and trading partners held to account, including in any future trade deal between the EU and the Mercosur countries. Members welcomed the creation of a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer post proposed by Ursula von der Leyen for this purpose.
Members also questioned the Commissioner-designate on his plans to ensure a fair and level playing field in digital commerce as opposed to competing with Chinese state-backed foreign companies. Others asked how he intends to support fair and ethical trade and mandatory due diligence in supply chains to exclude child labour and deforestation.
Based on the committees’ recommendations, the Conference of Presidents will decide on 17 October if Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote on whether or not to elect the Commission as a whole on 23 October, in Strasbourg.