European Commission sets out Millennium Round priorities

Subject: European Commission sets out Millennium Round priorities
From: Barbara Schleihagen (
Date: pe 09 heinä  1999 - 12:18:33 EEST

>From Press release at:
Complete document for downloading and further background at same URL. See
especially section c. investments on page 9 ff re former MAI and section h.
TRIPS on page 16 re incorporating WIPO Treaties in TRIPS Agreement.

Barbara Schleihagen

Brussels, 8 July 1999
Commission sets out Millennium Round priorities

The European Commission today set out its proposals for the agenda of the
Millennium Round of global trade talks to be launched this November in
Seattle. The Communication – which was requested by the Council of
Ministers last month – lays out both the case for a comprehensive round and
proposed European Union (EU) priorities. A comprehensive round is the best
mechanism for breaking down the remaining barriers to trade. It will
improve the European economy, foster economic growth worldwide, and ensure
the successful management of globalisation. The Communication stresses the
need to achieve greater market access by reducing tariffs and non-tariff
barriers and improving market access in the services sector. It also
emphasises the importance of developing new rules governing trade and
investment, trade and competition, and rules aimed at facilitating trade.
Negotiations in all these areas should take full account of the needs of
developing countries and the objective of sustainable development. The
Communication will now be sent to Member States and the European Parliament.

Sir Leon Brittan, Vice President of the Commission, said:
“Europe was the first to champion a Millennium Round back in March 1996 –
and we have progressively persuaded more and more of our trading partners
to follow our lead – often in the face of reluctance and procrastination.”
“Comprehensive global trade talks offer opportunities which the narrow
sectoral approach never can. A new round offers benefits not only to
Europe, but to all members of the World Trade Organisation. Better trade
rules and more market access are good for business, good for growth, and
good for jobs.”

“Our approach aims at cutting tariffs across the board, and taking special
account of the interests of the developing countries. There can be no
justification for developed countries maintaining high tariff peaks in
sectors such as textiles. This has gone on too long and must be a major
target in the New Round.”

The Communication argues that a comprehensive Round offers the best way to
take account of the trade interests of all WTO Members. It sets out an
ambitious agenda for the Millennium Round - which should among other things
include further liberalisation and rule-making in the fields of agriculture
and services, non-agricultural tariffs, investment, competition, trade
facilitation, and trade and environment.

The Commission proposes a fourfold agenda. First, to secure further trade
liberalisation and market access, creating better conditions for
competitiveness. Second, to promote the further strengthening of the WTO
system so that it becomes a truly universal instrument for the management
of global trade. Third, to take into account the continued need for special
and differential treatment for developing countries in order to promote
their development. Fourth, to ensure that the WTO continues to address
issues of concern to the broader public, such as environment, health and
social concerns.

The Communication argues that the new round should provide benefits for
developing countries, particularly the least developed countries. The WTO
must ensure that future trade liberalisation and rule making cater for the
interests and concerns of developing countries. In particular, the EU has
proposed that all developed countries implement, no later than the end of
the Round, duty free access for essentially all products from the least
developed countries. The Communication also pushes for improved and more
effective technical assistance and increased capacity building, including
closer co-operation between the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank.

On the environment, the Communication argues that a central benchmark of
the new round should be the WTO’s overall objective of sustainable
development. Trade and environment policies should play a mutually
supportive role in favour of sustainable development. The Communication
sets out a number of specific issues to be addressed in the negotiations to
clarify the relationship between trade rules and environmental measures and
to improve their interface. The Communication also stresses how important
it is to work with civil society – and the importance in the new round of
explaining to the public the benefits of the multilateral system. The
Communication suggests further steps that could be taken to improve WTO

The Communication calls for the establishment of a multilateral framework
of rules governing international investment, with the objective of securing
a stable and predictable climate for investment worldwide, while avoiding
the mistakes that led to the failure of the investment negotiations in the

The Communication also calls for the development of a framework of rules on
trade and competition. The need for such a multilateral framework has also
increased as a result of the globalisation of business activities which
means that a framework of common rules and principles would reduce
unnecessary costs for business arising from the application of different
competition laws to the same international transactions.

The EU has been at the forefront of efforts to launch a comprehensive
Millennium Round of trade talks. Sir Leon Brittan first called for this in
1996, and EU Member States have unanimously supported it. Over the period
1995-97, the volume of global trade has increased by almost 8% annually,
far outpacing the growth in world GDP.

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