Thursday

27th Apr 2017

EU and Japan to protect world order through free trade

  • Japan and the EU "are tied deeply together by a mutual commitment to maintain an open, free and fair global trading system," EU Council chief Tusk (c) said, with Japan's Abe (l) and Commission chief Juncker (r). (Photo: Council of the EU)

EU and Japanese leaders committed on Tuesday (21 March) to conclude a trade deal "as soon as possible" in an effort to defend a world order disrupted by the new US administration.

"We remain united by our common values of liberal democracy and the rule of law as the core principles of the rules-based international order," European Council president Donald Tusk said before meeting Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in Brussels.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He noted that Japan and the EU "are tied deeply together by [a] mutual commitment to maintain an open, free and fair global trading system".

Abe visited Brussels as part of a tour to meet European members of the G7, ahead of a planned summit of the rich nations' club at the end of May in Sicily. This will be the first of such summits to be attended by US president Donald Trump.

In response to Trump's support for Brexit and his questioning of Nato, the Japanese leader expressed his support for a "strong Europe" and for the EU's "cohesion of Europe as a whole, including on the security front".

He added that Japan, the EU, and the US should "work hand-in-hand to maintain and reinforce" the international order and "cooperate to show to the world the flag of free trade as a model".

The message comes three days after the G20, a broader forum of wealthy countries, at a finance ministers' meeting in Germany, dropped its pledge to fight protectionism under US pressure.

'Best of both worlds'

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said before the Abe meeting that negotiations were now in a "decisive and hopefully final stage".

He said that he expected a "comprehensive, ambitious and balanced deal" but noted that "there are few remaining issues but [that] they are the most difficult to solve."

Talks on the trade deal started in March 2013, but 17 rounds of negotiations have not yet led to a final agreement.

For the EU, a deal with Japan, the third largest world economy, is a priority to allay criticism of its trade policies and to compensate for the failure of talks for an agreement with the US.

"The agreement will give Japan and the European Union the best of both worlds," Juncker said.

"It opens up a major new market to each other by creating a level playing field and protecting our industries and work forces from unfair trading practices," he said, five months after a similar deal with Canada was criticised for threatening EU standards and workers' rights.

New talks in April

While EU officials hope to conclude the deal this year, the Japanese side prefers not to give deadlines.

"Shinzo Abe would like to achieve an agreement in principle at the earliest time as possible," a Japanese spokeswoman told a group of journalists after the meeting.

She said that during their 50-minute talks, the three leaders expressed their commitment to conclude a deal but did not delve into the blocking points.

According to EU sources, progress was made "across the board" in previous rounds of talks, but negotiations remain difficult in sectors such as market access for food and cars, services, public procurement, and intellectual property.

A new round of talks is planned for April in Tokyo to take stock of the negotiation with the aim of intensifying the process afterwards, according to an EU official.

US and Japan warn UK on EU trade

Washington and Tokyo say trade relations with the EU are more important to them than those with Britain in the context of Brexit.

MEPs approve Canada trade deal amid protest

Amid protests in front of the European Parliament's Strasbourg building and after heated debate among MEPs, the landmark trade deal with Canada was approved with a comfortable majority.

Eurogroup makes 'progress' on Greek deal

Eurozone ministers endorsed an agreement in principle between the Greek government and its creditors over a new package of reforms. But talks on fiscal targets and debt could still block a final agreement.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  2. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act
  3. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  4. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  6. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  7. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  8. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  9. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  10. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  11. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?