“Have to do the homework”: Merz insists on realistic EU trade policy


The world’s largest free trade area is emerging in Asia. For Merz a sign that Europe must finally step up its commitment. This also includes more realism. Instead of environmental and occupational safety, the focus should be on customs policy.

In view of the free trade agreement between China and 14 other countries from the Asia-Pacific region, CDU politician Friedrich Merz is calling for the European Union to be much more involved in trade policy. At the same time as the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed in Hanoi, “Trump is processing his election defeat on the golf course and we in Germany are discussing gender-equitable legal language,” he said at the CDU Economic Council’s business day. “We should see that we do our homework in Europe, regardless of what else is going on in the world.”

“Homework number one” could mean that the free trade agreement between the EU and Canada, CETA, would finally be passed and ratified in parliaments, Merz demanded. “What is actually still standing in the way of the German Bundestag making a decision?”

It is time for a “realistic trade policy” that looks after Europe’s interests in the world and does not focus on environmental protection and occupational safety first, but rather on customs policy. This applies both to the EU agreement with the Mercosur countries in Latin America and to the TTIP transatlantic free trade agreement. If Europe prefers to forego an agreement with the USA, “we are making a strategic mistake,” said the Vice President of the CDU Economic Council. CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak is also calling for a new start on the TTIP issue.

This is particularly important because with a view to a possible blocking minority of the Republicans in the US Senate, the new administration of US President Joe Biden will probably not be able to work for a long time. “I do not expect that we will see an ambassador in Berlin next year,” emphasized Merz.

In addition to China and ten Asean states, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand had joined the now largest free trade area in the world. The agreement covers more than two billion people and around a third of global economic output. Chancellor Angela Merkel recently doubted that the EU-Mercosur agreement would come into force, with a view to the ongoing deforestation and slash and burn under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Merz is hoping for the CDU chairmanship and a candidacy as the Union’s top candidate in the federal election next year.

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