Thursday, 11 March 2004

Questions (67)

Gay Mitchell


64 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will make a statement on the recently published report by Comhlámh, Beyond Cancún EU Agricultural Trade and Policy and the Majority World; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4258/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Enterprise)

I welcome the recently published report by Comhlámh, Beyond Cancún EU Agricultural Trade Policy and the Majority World. It will contribute to the broadening of the debate on agricultural trade policy and the impact of these policies on the development dimensions of the current trade round.

The EU commenced an internal reflection period with key stakeholders, including the EU member states, the Commission and the European Parliament, to review the DDA negotiations in the aftermath of the failed Cancun conference. The European Commission communication which issued following the conclusion of this period of reflection, in November 2003, notified the approach to reviving the DDA negotiations from the EU perspective. In it, there is clear emphasis on the need for the re-integration of developing countries into the world economy as a necessary condition for development, and that such integration will be deeper and fairer if anchored in the multilateral trading system.

The strategy and approach notified in the Commission communication across the full spectrum of DDA negotiating issues was endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers in December 2003. The Council encouraged the Commission, on its behalf, to actively engage with our WTO trading partners aimed at the immediate re-launch of the DDA negotiations and stated that the "Union give priority to the achievement of real benefits in the short term to the poorest countries through rapid progress on issues of importance to them".

The EU is, therefore, committed to work hard to secure genuinely pro-development outcomes in all areas of the Doha work programme, in line with the stress placed on this in earlier Council conclusions. Action to achieve these outcomes are those identified in the September 2002 communication on trade and development, endorsed by the Council, including in the areas of market access, multilateral trade rules, trade related assistance and capacity building, including the mainstreaming of trade related assistance into poverty reduction strategy papers, and similar strategies.

Again, I welcome the Comhlámh report and its contribution to the debate which will be considered in the context of the strategies and approach to achieve the desired objectives across the full spectrum of DDA sectors, including agricultural trade policy. In that context, I understand that my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy Walsh, as President of the Agriculture Council, intends to hold a debate at the informal Ministers meeting in Ireland in May on how the impact of CAP reform on international trade, as well as opportunities arising from existing and future international arrangements, can best be communicated to the European Union's trading partners and, in particular, developing countries.

EU trade policy is a community competence. As such, a common EU approach is developed and formulated in the evolution of the common commercial policy of the Union.