Substantive progress towards concluding the staggering "Doha Round" has to be made during the next round of world trade talks, say MEPs in a non-legislative resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Thursday, ahead of the Tenth Ministerial World Trade Conference (MC10) in Nairobi (Kenya), which will take place on 15-18 December this year.
In the resolution, adopted by 500 votes in favour, 125 against and 23 abstentions, MEPs urge the EU to continue leading towards a swift and full conclusion of the longstanding Doha Development Round, launched back in 2001. They add that a "review of the level of ambition" may be needed to achieve realistic results.
MEPs stress that Nairobi must be a success for developing countries, with development at the centre of the world trade talks and full account taken of the special needs of developing and least developed countries. In attempts to liberalize the world trade, nevertheless, account has to be taken on the sensitivity of some sectors such as agriculture.
Reform the WTO
In the resolution MEPs ask for a structural reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to better guarantee an open, fair and non-discriminatory trading system based on shared and applied rules, which takes greater account of SMEs, micro-enterprises and innovative start-ups.
They say that the WTO and its rules have been essential to avoid "fully fledged and widespread protectionism" after the 2008 financial and economic crisis, however, they add that of the 1 244 restrictive measures recorded since the onset of the crisis, only 282 have been removed, and there was need for more action against such measures. "Failure to upgrade rules may lead to new and innovative ways of protecting domestic markets and producers", MEPs warn.
Whereas MEPs remain fully committed to the "the enduring value of multilateralism", they commend the progress made to date on "plurilateral" initiatives, in particular the Trade Facilitation Agreement, ratified by MEPs in October this year, and call upon all WTO members to ratify it so that it can enter into force before still before the MC10.
They nevertheless remind that the ultimate objective of plurilateral deals was to bring in a critical mass of WTO members and "multilateralise them".
MEPs call on the Commission and Council to involve the EP closely in preparations for the MC10, and, if necessary, consulted MEPs during the Ministerial Conference. They also call other WTO members to strengthen the parliamentary dimension of the WTO and ensure that parliamentarians all over the world have better access to trade talks.
The Tenth Ministerial WTO Conference will take place in Kenya from 15 to 18 December 2015 - the first time a WTO Ministerial Conference is held in an African country.
A delegation of 10 MEPs, led by EP's Trade committee chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) will attend the world trade talks Nairobi round.
The EU remains world's region with the most far-reaching parliamentary power over trade legislation.