The European Commission´s (EC) decision, according to which the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement - CETA - ought to be ratified by the national parliaments, represents a turning point in the transition from the old world of trade to a new world of international trade. This agreement, just as the overall trade policy of the EU, shall bear a crucial importance for SMEs. This was the primary message of MEP Iuliu Winkler, First Vice-President of SME Europe, as delivered this Wednesday in Brussels, during a working breakfast organized on the priorities of the Slovak rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU as concerns the role SMEs shall play in the EU´s economic dynamics.
“EU trade policy bears a crucial importance for SMEs. The reduction or even the elimination of customs duties by free trade agreements is significant for such enterprises, yet even more pertinent is the process of removal of non-tariff barriers to trade, the simplification of regulation in various fields and the harmonization of the bureaucratic setting governing EU commercial relations with its partners. The implementation of free trade agreements brings new opportunities for SMEs to facilitate job creation and to contribute to the well-being of all European citizens. We find ourselves in a crucial time for our trade policy. The EC decision stipulating that the CETA EU-Canada trade agreement ought to be ratified by all national parliaments represents a stepping stone in the transition from the old world of international trade to a new world of international trade. CETA embodies this bridge of transition towards a new EU trade policy. The Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU will have an important role to play in ensuring that this accord is to be signed in October, at the EU-Canada Summit. Moreover, the Slovak Presidency should undertake all necessary measures in order to secure a Council agreement for the provisional implementation of CETA, prior to ratification by national parliaments. I categorically oppose the foes of free trade that openly uphold the idea that trade agreements have an undemocratic character. EU citizens democratically elect the European Parliament (EP), and as such, a ratification by this institution of any free trade agreement ensures that the necessary democratic control has taken place”, declared Iuliu Winkler.
On this backdrop, the RMDSZ MEP, who is also the Vice Chair of the International Trade Committee (INTA) of the EP, has stressed that the agenda of said committee includes numerous files that will affect the SME sector. “I will mention here only two files, the one related to the Market Economy Status of China, as well as the one on Conflict Minerals, where I am also the rapporteur”, said Winkler. He further recalled that an EC Proposal related to the Market Economy Status of China is shortly awaited. “I want to emphasize the clear position of the EP on this matter. The EU will have to have effective Trade Defence Instruments, applicable to the dumping of products originating from China, even after December 2016. This position of the EP is relevant for the safeguarding of the interests of European companies, foremost those in the steel industry, as well as for defending European jobs and businesses”, underlined Iuliu Winkler.
The debated organized by SME Europe was held at the initiative of Slovak MEP Ivan Štefanec, Vice President of SME Europe, benefitting from the distinguished presence of the Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the EU, H.E. Ambassador Peter Javorcik. Slovakia followed the Dutch rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU, assuming its duties on 1 July.