Liberalising Europe by raising the barriers to trade


  • 14/10/2021
    11:30 - 12:30
Despite newly negotiated free trade agreements (FTA) by the European Commission during its last mandate, maintaining an open and free trading multilateral system has become increasing difficult. Abroad, ‘America first’ or ‘China first’ trade strategies still dominate the geopolitical scene and within the EU, protectionist campaign groups have successfully used environmental and welfare-related arguments to push back against further trade liberalisation. As a result, both the negotiation process and the ratification of FTAs takes significantly longer than the Commission initially planned – the MERCOSUR ratification saga being the latest example.

A new EPICENTER Discussion Paper by trade experts from Italy, Spain, and Greece outlines the reasons for scepticism towards free trade in the South of the continent and offers solutions to combat protectionist ideas.  Both the paper and our upcoming discussion aims to address the challenges of European trade strategy by reviewing the most common critiques on free trade.

What is the voting behaviour of different political groups in the European Parliament and national MPs in Spain, Italy, and Greece when it comes to FTAs? What are the reasons for trade scepticism in certain pollical parties and can they be addressed early on in the process? Can the EU’s trade negotiation process be sped up or are there too many vested interests to balance?

What is the impact of political realignment on the EU’s trade strategy? Is strategic autonomy the correct way to deal with trade scepticism or is it just a buzzword aimed to replace the negative connotation of protectionism?

Impulse statements by:

– Piotr Rydzkowski, Head of the Policy Unit in DG Trade, European Commission

– Carlo Stagnaro, Research Director, IBL, Italy

– Antonio O`Mullony, Senior Researcher, Civismo, Spain

– Constantinos Saravakos, Senior Researcher, KEFiM, Greece

If you would like to ask questions to the panellists and be a part of webinar on Zoom, please register – HERE or watch us on YouTube – HERE.

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