Embargo: 00:01 Wednesday 28 November 2007
Contact: Owen Williams 020 7219 8659


The House of Lords European Union Committee has today launched a new inquiry into European Union trade policy. The Committee decided to undertake the inquiry following an evidence session held with Gareth Thomas MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Consumer Affairs.

The Committee, the EU Sub-Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs and International Trade, today published a report of that evidence session arguing that little progress has been made towards to conclusion of the Doha Round. The report raises concerns that an increasing number of trade agreements are negotiated bilaterally rather than multilaterally. They have decided to look in more detail at the future of multilateral trade agreements and examine the priorities for EU trade policy over the next decade.

Some of the questions they will be seeking responses to for the new inquiry include:

  • What are the future prospects for multilateral trade negotiations? What impact will the rising number of bilateral agreements have?

  • What should the relationship be between European trade policy and policies on development, climate change and the depletion of natural resources?

  • Have developing countries benefited from multilateral trade agreements?

  • What are the best mechanisms to remove barriers to trade in services? Which now make up 77% of European GDP and employment.

  • Is there still a role for the WTO in the 21st Century?

Commenting Baroness Cohen of Pimlico, Chairman of EU Sub-Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs, said:

"Having heard evidence from Gareth Thomas on the recent developments in trade policy we have been stimulated into looking at the issue in more detail.

"Increasingly both the EU and America are entering into bilateral trade agreements with individual countries rather than multilateral agreements. There has been some concern that this leads to unfair trade advantages to countries whose leadership are approved off by the West; we want to find out if that is the case.

"We will be looking at EU's trade policy in considerable detail and would welcome evidence from any interested parties."

Notes to Editors

  1. Full details of the committees inquiry, including the call for evidence can be found at:

  2. The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Friday 29 February 2008

  3. The members of the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee A (Economic and Financial Affairs) are:

Baroness Cohen of Pimlico (Chair)

Lord Renton of Mount Harry

Lord Giddens

Lord Steinberg

Lord Haskins

Lord Trimble

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard

Lord Watson of Richmond

Lord Maclennan of Rogart

Lord Woolmer of Leeds

Lord Moser