Doha talks - time to put it all on the table, Conservatives say

Mandelson faces biggest test as trade commissioner

Brussels, 15th May 2007 — Peter Mandelson must do what is in the long-term interests of the European economy and ignore the domestic and protectionist member states, Sir Robert Atkins Conservative Deputy Leader in the European Parliament said today.

His comments come ahead of a last-chance meeting of the world’s leading trade powers in Brussels this Thursday aimed at resuscitating the Doha trade round. Failure to reach a deal - or secure any movement at all - will almost certainly sink the entire round, which has been flagging since last summer.

Sir Robert says Mandelson has allowed his hands to be tied by the most protectionist EU governments, which prevents him taking the interests of the whole bloc into consideration. He has called on Mandelson to take the moral high ground and speculatively put agriculture subsidies on the table.

He said: “The consequences of not getting a global trade deal are so unthinkable that Europe cannot afford to listen to the protectionists.

“Peter Mandelson must rise above national interests. If he only moves as far or fast as the most protectionist country, we will never get a trade deal.

“The EU must now provide leadership in these talks. When Britain disagrees with EU policy in other areas, the Commission is quick to brush us aside. For once, they should take this approach with countries like France and Italy.

“Europe needs to put the eventual abolition of agriculture subsidies on the table. Mandelson should negotiate concessions speculatively and if he can shake the other key negotiators from their entrenched positions, we may have a deal.

“Ultimately, the British economy is being hampered by having a single trade negotiator for all 27 member states. Peter Mandelson is in danger of becoming the European commissioner for protectionism. I am sure it’s not how he wants to be remembered.”

Top ↑