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French, Dutch join forces to urge EU to show teeth on trade

REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

France and the Netherlands have joined forces to urge the European Union to enforce environmental and labour standards more forcefully with countries the bloc signs trade deals with, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The initiative comes as the EU tries to negotiate a new trade deal with Britain, which formally left the bloc on Jan. 31, amid concerns that it might seek to undercut EU labour and environmental standards to boost its competitiveness. The involvement of the traditionally strongly pro-free trade Dutch underscores a shift in European thinking on the need to protect domestic industry and jobs, a French diplomat said, as the coronavirus pandemic batters the global economy. A more assertive China and U.S. President Donald Trump’s more protectionist ‘America-First’ agenda have also helped to reshape European attitudes towards free trade. In their joint proposal sent to the other 25 EU member states, the French and Dutch trade ministers urge the European Commission to be ready to raise tariffs against trade partners that fail to meet their commitments on sustainable development.

“Trade policy instruments can provide additional leverage to the implementation of international environmental and labour standards,” the document said.

10 May 2020

News Source Reuters

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