On March 6th IE hosted Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, who examined the challenges facing EU trade policy with students and professors of IE. The EU Commissioner was received by the President of IE, Diego del Alcázar, and Arantza de Areilza, Dean of IE School of International Relations.
The talk formed part of a series of initiatives launched by the European Commission aimed at informing citizens about advances in negotiations on international trade agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and to hear opinions from different collectives on EU policy issues. Commissioner Malmström and her team are heading European negotiations related to the TTIP, an agreement aimed at enabling free trade with the US.
Malmström explained how one of the EU’s key challenges is that of “connecting with citizens”, listening to their opinions, and debating with them on European policy. She recognized that there is a major debate surrounding the TTIP negotiations, the completion of which would have a very positive impact in terms of job creation. Malmström reminded those present that 30 million people in Europe work in positions related to export, 4.5 million of which have a direct connection with exports to the US. She explained how Swedish policy has centered around the idea that trade agreements are not only aimed at large companies, but at smaller firms as well, pointing out that in Spain alone there are 70,000 SMEs that export.
The European Commissioner for Trade underscored the fact that the signing of the TTIP agreement does not mean that consumers will have less protection or will face a change in regulations. She explained that the agreement is about providing European firms with greater access to the US market, citing as an example how the safety tests to which the US and European automobile industries are subjected to when exporting from one region to another are of a similar, very high standard, which is a major cause of inefficiency in the sector.
Participating IE students were able to exchange views on key subjects with Cecilia Malmström, including European trade policy, and the main agreements currently being negotiated in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and Africa, as well as reflecting on the challenges facing the EU in this field in the coming years.