Prague, 24 March 2010 - European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has initiated a public dialogue on the future of trade policy in the EU. At the Civil Society Trade Seminar in Prague, the Commissioner called for a broad debate on the role of trade policy in the current economic environment.

"Including the public when discussing trade is essential if we are to respond to people's legitimate concerns about globalisation", said Commissioner De Gucht. "It is important that we tap into the wealth of experience, expertise and opinion in Europe."

In the fourth event of its type, the seminar brings together a wide range of voices to examine current issues in EU trade policy. Participants include NGOs, business consumer and industry associations, trade unions, employers' organisations, faith-based groups and research institutes along with representatives from the Spanish Presidency and the European Parliament.

The seminar presents an opportunity to discuss EU trade policy making under the Lisbon Treaty, to explore how to harness the benefits of trade liberalisation in the context of the economic crisis and to consider how trade policy can contribute to sustainable development goals. It kicks off a series of consultations with interested parties on EU trade policy strategies. The results will feed into a Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council.

Background

The European Commission regularly organises meetings with civil society on a range of topics. These meetings are supplemented by seminars to enhance the debate. Such seminars have been held in Budapest (2006), Sofia (2007) and Brussels (2009).

Another step towards the public has been made with a Brussels Conference on trade policy and developing countries held on March 16. Here Commissioner De Gucht announced the launch of a public consultation to support the review of the EU's General System of Preferences.


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