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5 challenges for the EU's new trade chief - Politico.eu
Spare a thought for Phil Hogan's successor as EU trade boss.

With global trade sputtering because of coronavirus, Brexit talks turning into a game of chicken, and the trade conflict with the United States in desperate need of a cease-fire, the new commissioner will have their work cut out. While prior commissioners were able to focus on securing headline-grabbing trade deals, attention is now turning toward damage control.

Here are the five main tasks for the EU's new trade chief:

End trade war with the US

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen counted on Hogan, who proved a highly effective negotiator in his previous stint as agriculture commissioner, to reset the world's largest investment and trade relationship after years of U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff war.

Easier said than done, even if Trump eventually goes.

Prevent EU deals from unraveling
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The ratification of the EU's trade deals with Canada and the Southern American bloc of Mercosur has sparked opposition all over the EU, from Cyprus to the Netherlands, Germany and France. While the ongoing negotiations with Australia and New Zealand might not give the EU's new trade chief so many headaches, it will be difficult to ensure the existing ones get the green light in EU capitals. In the case of Mercosur, ratification by France and Germany is looking almost impossible.
The MERCOSUR deal is precisely the archetypal trade deal that will weaken European and South American agriculture as well. It will push even more deforestation in the Amazonia and other places. Only a few big businesses will benefit - that's the idea.

Manage the fallout from Brexit

Negotiations over a future trade deal between the EU and the U.K. have turned into a game of chicken, increasing the chances of a no-deal outcome by the end of the year. Having agreed on a divorce package last year that allowed the U.K. to continue to trade with the EU, the two sides remain at an impasse on various issues, the thorniest being so-called level playing field rules, designed to prevent the U.K. from undercutting the EU in the future.

The EU is determined not to blink first and has repeatedly stressed that the U.K. has much more to lose in a no-deal scenario than Brussels. But a disorderly Brexit at the end of the year would be a major blow for the EU economy as well, especially when it coincides with the recovery from the corona crisis.

by Bernard on Sat Aug 29th, 2020 at 06:32:41 PM EST

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