Madam Chair, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

Next week, the twelfth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation takes place in Geneva.

MC12 comes at a critical moment: It has the potential to put the WTO on the right reform path, while delivering good results in areas like trade and health, climate action, agriculture, and sustainable fishing.

The EU is leading efforts from the front. We published a roadmap for WTO reform earlier this year, and we have worked tirelessly to build coalitions in support of our goals since then.

I appreciate the consistent support of honourable members for this strategic approach.

It is in the strong interest of the EU that we begin to deliver on this agenda. However, a week from MC12, the situation is both complex and challenging.

Meaningful results are still attainable, with landing zones on some multilateral files emerging, notably on trade and health, and on the launch of a process for WTO reform. 

In this context, and with very little time left until MC12, all multilateral issues will be brought to the Ministerial itself for resolution.

First, on trade and health, the WTO needs to come up with a credible contribution for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expected outcome is a Ministerial Declaration, including an action plan for future pandemics by the next ministerial Conference – MC13.

We are seeking commitments on transparency and monitoring, export restrictions, trade facilitation and cooperation with other international organisations.

With regard to vaccines, it is quite remarkable how far we have come.

Just one year after the first vaccine was proven to be effective, we will have 12.2 billion doses being produced by the end of the year.

And we can always do more. 

In the area of Intellectual Property, our goal is unchanged: ramping up production and increasing the access of developing countries to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. 

But we want a real solution. That is why we continue to engage with the proponents of a waiver on certain IP protections in response to the pandemic.

IP is only one piece in a big jigsaw. Collaboration with industry and investment in production capacity plays a much bigger part.

But we are determined to ensure that IP also plays its part, by enhancing and simplifying the use of TRIPS in the interests of all.

Specifically, we are advocating for a targeted waiver on compulsory licenses.

This solution could facilitate production of vaccines and other essential health products, which are key for regions such as Africa, while preserving incentives for innovation and investment.

The protection of patents is crucial in this respect, as they are essential for countries that want to attract investment and to have transfer of technology, in order to develop their own production capacity. 

We still hope to have consensus in this crucial matter in the days ahead, and we will maintain strong engagement to that end.

But for these efforts to be successful we need all parties to focus on a meaningful solution that works in the real world.

On fisheries subsidies, the remaining time is very short and the gaps in positions are wide.

Discussions on special and differential treatment remain very difficult, with members pushing to have even more concessions beyond the very significant ones they already received in the revision.

The EU continues to advocate for a robust agreement that will deliver on the sustainability objectives of these negotiations.

We are ready to contribute with new commitments– such as a global ban on subsidies for fishing in parts of the high seas that are not properly regulated.

Agriculture is crucial for MC12 success.

The main challenge is to manage unrealistic requests and expectations by many Members, combined with defensive positions of the major players.

We believe that a meaningful outcome, centred on transparency and work programmes, is within reach, paving the way for an agreement in MC13 to reduce trade distorting support and to have a permanent solution on public stockholding.

Finally, on the EU priority of wider WTO reform, we are aiming at setting up a Working Group on institutional improvements, which should make recommendations for MC13.

When it comes to plurilateral outcomes, we expect a conclusion on services domestic regulation.

This would be the first WTO agreement on services in more than 20 years, representing a significant success for the multilateral system.

The OECD estimates this could save €140 billion in costs, giving another welcome boost to global recovery.

The Ministerial will also note good progress on investment facilitation and e-commerce. The EU remains committed to working on Trade and Gender as well as on the Medium and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) tracks.

Finally on environment and climate, the EU is playing a leading role bringing these issues forward.

We are proposing a paragraph in the Ministerial Declaration to underline the importance of WTO work in this area, and plurilateral statements on environmental sustainability, plastics pollution and fossil fuel subsidies reform.

Madam Chair, Honourable Members, the upcoming Ministerial Conference can have a strong bearing on the future of the multilateral trading system.

We very much appreciate your strong support and involvement.

The EU his leading from the front, but we need others to step up to the plate. Now is the time for the WTO membership to display courage, vision and vitality. Thank you.