Permanent Mission of the European Union to
the World Trade Organization (WTO)

EU Statement by Ambassador João Aguiar Machado at the Trade Negotiations Committee/Heads of Delegation, 6 December 2019

Geneva, 06/12/2019 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 191206_10
Local Statements

Since our last meeting, the situation of the WTO has further deteriorated. Not only the discontinuation of the Appellate Body’s work has become an evident prospect, but attempts to obstruct the functioning of this Organization through the budget discussion have shattered Members’ confidence in the WTO. This has diverted us from progressing our negotiation agenda or from finding ways to resume nominations of the Appellate Body Members, which should be the priority. While the European Union is alarmed about the current state of affairs at the WTO, we remain strongly determined to address the challenges in front of us.

  • First, we remain resolute to find ways to restore a two-step dispute settlement system at the WTO, and resume nomination of Appellate Body’s Members as soon as possible. Next week’s General Council will be crucial in this respect and we invite all Members to engage constructively in finding solutions.
  • Second, the best option we have available to demonstrate the WTO’s relevance is to deliver on the negotiating function of the Organization. As a consequence, all our efforts should be devoted to ensure that next Ministerial Conference delivers results on the ongoing negotiations. We are therefore grateful to the chairs, co-conveners and facilitators for the reports they have made today.
  • We note that the Joint Statement Initiatives are well on track and the EU is very supportive of all of them. This is a unique opportunity to advance issues on their own merits. Those initiatives are supportive of the multilateral trading system and we see no valid reason to further challenge that.
  • With respect to Fisheries Subsidies,
    • We regret that despite all efforts and the looming deadline, we have achieved no outcome this year on prohibiting subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing and on eliminating subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing.
    • Fortunately, the WTO has been given another chance to finish the work on fisheries subsidies. That chance is Nur-Sultan. This must be our focus. We must show to the world that the WTO is capable of delivering a multilateral outcome, and on trade and sustainability related issues.
    • The EU greatly appreciates the renewed impetus that RNG Chair Wills from Colombia has injected into the negotiations. This was needed to move the negotiations forward. The EU fully supports Ambassador Will’s efforts. The EU also supports Ambassador Wills’ plans for the period before the Ministerial Conference. Such a roadmap is certainly needed and we appreciate that no Member objected to it at the recent HOD meeting. Time for exploring and discussing is over. All WTO Members now need to show necessary flexibilities and be able to make concessions to achieve our joint goal.
    • As regards the outcome in Nur-Sultan, for the EU, the negotiations must fulfil the mandate. The mandate talks about eliminating subsidies to IUU fishing and about prohibiting subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing.  These are areas on which negotiations need to focus on.
  • There is lots of work ahead of us, but also a chance to achieve something meaningful despite the current context. Let me assure you Mr Chair that the European Union remains determined to seize this opportunity.


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