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Under S&D leadership, European Parliament calls for strengthening WTO as bedrock of multilateral, rules-based trading system


25 Nov 2021


Trade & Society

Ahead of the 12th World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ministerial conference (MC12) taking place from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva, the European Parliament adopted its position today. With this resolution the European Parliament strongly supports the multilateral trading system and puts forward four concrete areas where they want to see outcomes at MC12: a multilateral agreement on prohibiting unsustainable fisheries subsidies, a pandemic response, a limited package on agriculture, as well as a commitment to institutional reform.

Bernd Lange, S&D MEP responsible for the WTO and Chair of the European Parliament’s international trade committee, said:

“The World Trade Organisation is the bedrock of the rules-based multilateral trading system. Yet, the organisation is in a critical condition. Breaching WTO rules, some of its members resorted to unilateral measures, thereby undermining our rules-based system. The Covid-19 pandemic, ensuring universal access to vaccines, and the green and digital transitions are among the many challenges the WTO is struggling to deal with. The Ministerial Council, MC12, which takes place next week in Geneva is extremely important to demonstrate the relevance of the organisation. With this resolution we show strong support for the multilateral system and we put forward four concrete outcomes we in the European Parliament want to be achieved at MC12.

“It's crystal clear that the WTO needs to undergo substantive reform. We call for the establishment of a system of enhanced cooperation within the WTO, akin to the one we have in the EU. The willing must not be held back by the unwilling, but be able to move ahead. We also ask for the establishment of a working group on labour rights, with the aim of strengthening respect for workers' rights worldwide. Trade must be a tool for improving people’s lives. As there is no good alternative to the current system, we need to fix and improve the one we have.”

Kathleen Van Brempt, S&D MEP and spokesperson on trade, said:

“Multilateralism is under threat. Within the framework of the WTO, we must urgently make progress on health. Assuring universal access to Covid-19 vaccination is of the utmost importance to tackle the pandemic. But today, vaccine-producing countries have already administered more booster shots, than developing countries have been able to administer first doses of the vaccine. Europe must stop blocking the temporary waiver on intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines and start sharing its mRNA technology, the data on production and the vaccines patents to ensure we can boost the production and distribution of vaccines to all in need.”