EP: Dialogue-seminar on the future of EU trade policy
The future of EU trade policy was at the center of the dialogue-seminar that took place on Tuesday, 2 June 2021, in the European Parliament. Hosted by EP Vice-President Roberta Metsola, the event took place in a hybrid format, with many of the guests taking part via online streaming. It brought together EU political leaders and civil servants working in this field, scholars and representatives of faith communities across the continent.
Opening the discussion, Mrs. Roberta Metsola emphasised the central place of trade policy within the broader framework of the EU's impact on the world stage. "Trade is one of our most powerful tools in this changing world. It communicates to the world what we value, in terms of products; it communicates to the world whom we value, in terms of partners. And it also communicates what we are not willing to sacrifice in order to get something at a lower cost. Trade also allows us to promote the values that we find important", she said.
Addressing the participants, Mr. Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President of the European Commission spoke of the strong contribution that faith-based organisations can bring to the debate on this field. He equally emphasised the efforts of the current Commission to assume a leading position in reforming current trade rules in light of current pressing challenges worldwide, such as the recovery after the Covid19 pandemic or environmental protection. "Trade is not an end in itself, but rather a way to foster sustainable development for all, based on certain non-negotiable core-values, such as social fairness and environmental protection", Mr. Schinas stated.
Addressing the meeting on behalf of the Committee of Representatives of the Orthodox Churches to the EU, Rev. Fr. George Valcu affirmed the need to keep the human person at the center of EU policies: "Paraphrasing the Gospel, we could say that trade was made for man, and not man for trade! So, in other words, trade should be centred on the human person, and not on profits". Rev. Valcu also pointed to the fact that, beyond punctual regulations, the current trading system is in dire need of a fundamental change of course: "From a Christian perspective, I would also like to emphasise the need for trade to be based not so much on an ever-growing concern for growth – which we all know is not at all sustainable – but more so on real needs. More is not necessarily better, and the deeply-established habit, in our societies, to buy for the sake of consuming strongly needs to be counterbalanced with a certain sense for temperance and moderation," he concluded.