Europe Jacques Delors - Official partner of the European Forum Alpbach 2020
Even if trade measures are not among the “first best solutions” to tackle environmental degradations, revisiting the EU stance in this area appears, both necessary and urgent, starting with climate change related aspects. This is also true about other issues such as biodiversity or ocean governance. It is a highly complex matter, necessitating deep analytical and technical investigations in several areas, new political debates, and search for operational and implementable solutions.
Under the increasingly distinct pressure of public opinion on the matter, policy lines appear to be undergoing a swift transformation. The nomination of the new European Commission has brought about an acceleration in the agenda for greening EU trade policy. In the space of only few months, highly sensitive issues such as border carbon adjustment have become policy options that are now seriously being considered at the European level despite the debates and the legal, technical and political obstacles they face. The unexpected alliance between France and the Netherlands on the greening of European free trade agreements, accompanied by the recent stance taken by Emmanuel Macron against the ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement are just two examples of this acceleration.
This greening endeavour can be approached in the two traditional dimensions of the commercial legal system: the multilateral dimension, i.e. the WTO, where ambitions to open up trade are limited by the heterogeneity of members and their levels of development and the bilateral dimension (“WTO +”), which allows for greater pursuits thanks to openness and, by extension, greater environmental ambitions.