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EU: What future for EU's FTAs - EP Debate

The European Parliament discussed the need for new trade agreements to support sustainable growth, competitiveness, and the EU's strategic autonomy on October 4th 2023. Here is what they said.

The EU Commission met the European Parliament's MEPs for a debate on the future of FTAs in the EU.

You can read the exchanges below, in a nutshell, however, the EU Commission said that the Union faces an increasingly difficult international climate.

Global Tensions

Strategic rivalry between the US and China, the Ukraine conflict, and the multilateralism issue are increasing global tensions. The economy is plagued by inflation, supply chain disruptions, weaponization of dependence, and subsidiary risk. Finally, we must address climate change and other sustainable goals in labour, environment, and development.


Fragmentation is real and would have terrible economic implications. Thank goodness we don't have to take this danger passively. We can reduce it. This complex climate needs a proactive, comprehensive policy response using several instruments. Trade policy helps achieve sustained development, competitiveness, and strategic autonomy. We are stronger due of trade policies and free trade agreements.

The case for FTAs

FTAs boost economic agility, competitiveness, and resilience the EU Commission says. FTAs link us to other growing zones, encourage innovation, and generate and maintain high-quality employment. EU exports provide 38 million employment, increasing 11 million from 2010. FTAs provide the imports we need at competitive costs and create export prospects that help us and our companies develop and boost efficiency via economies of scale.

Our economy is more resilient with FTAs. They diversify our imports and exports. Our market losses from Russia's unlawful invasion of Ukraine would have been more than offset by concluding our FTA discussions.

Trade agreements strengthen ties and alliances in these times of rising geopolitical tensions. They foster trust and political connections with a wide range of partners, from like-minded mature economies to growing ones.

Finally, our FTAs allow us to collaborate with worldwide partners on sustainability goals and standards. For that reason, our FTAs contain trade and sustainable development chapters with enforceable obligations based on international labour, environment, and climate standards.

EU FTAs are among the largest worldwide.

We must act as our situation changes and our trading partners strengthen their relationships. Thus, we need a vigorous FTA agenda. It's crucial to our competitiveness, economic security, and capacity to change for the better.

In her State of the EU address a few weeks ago, President von der Leyen stressed the need of free and fair trade. Expanding our trade agreements is a vital aspect of our de-risking strategy and business-ease activities.

Smart Trade

Smart trade creates wealth and employment. Much progress has been made in recent years, but more is needed. We currently have numerous negotiated agreements awaiting signature and ratification. Our capacity to do so determines our economic and geopolitical credibility.

We are also negotiating with several partners, including established economies and large developing markets. Each negotiation has its own nuances and demands knowledge and flexibility, but they all form part of a larger engagement effort the EU has to undertake to accomplish its goals in today's environment.

EU - NZ in 2024

Ratifying our previous agreements is the realistic first step. Making sure the FTA with New Zealand is finalised so it can take effect in 2024.

Chile and Kenya

Accelerating the signing and completion of the Chile and Kenya accords.


We must also forward our negotiation agenda. To rapidly finish deals with Australia, Mexico, Mercosur, India, and Indonesia. Thailand conversations have also resumed.

Strengthen third-country ties

FTAs are simply one way to strengthen third-country ties. WTO tariffs and restrictions dominate our commerce. We must continue to support and modernise the rules-based multilateral trading system, which ensures international trade stability and prevents protectionism. We shall keep WTO sustainability principles.


On the other hand, we build flexible methods to enhance collaboration with foreign nations in mutually beneficial fields. The EU, Ecuador, Kenya, and New Zealand formed the Trade Ministers Coalition for Climate to improve trade-climate interaction. Trade and technology councils with the US and India and the Critical Raw Materials Club help here.

This is why we are creating digital commerce and raw material collaborations. Active and flexible trade policies should complement each other. We should collaborate to deliver.

Read the exchange with MEPs

More information & Links

Free Trade Agreements - all updates in one place and constantly updated

EU: Overview of all Free Trade Agreements + State of Play

Download the updated document detailing the state of play of all the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) the EU has signed.

EU - Thailand FTA: Negotiations Progress Report + Text Proposals

The EU negotiates a Free Trade Agreement with Thailand. On this page, we explain what it is about and we report on progress.

EU-Kenya FTA: EU Ratification Progresses - Get Your TRADE ready!

The EU is set to pass the EU-Kenya FTA. Download the latest draft statute and key annexes here to prepare to ship duty-free under the FTA's Rules of Origin + Explainer, Factsheet and FAQ

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