The Role of EU Member States
123. Member States have their own contacts with
third countries, both politically and at senior official level.
These relationships can be used positively to reinforce the Commission's
own negotiating stance, but sometimes mixed messages are projected
to those third countries.
124. We believe that Member States need to support
the trade Commissioner in order for negotiations to work effectively.
There would be real dangers if Member States undermined the Commission
by taking positions with third countries which contradicted those
agreed within the EU. However, there is a possible role for Member
State governments to help the negotiations process by taking advantage
of particular bilateral links.
125. We looked at the role played by the United
Kingdom within the European trade policy context. We were keen
to determine whether the United Kingdom was being proactive enough.
Patricia Hewitt told us:
"We also have, as the United Kingdom, by virtue
of our unique history and set of relationships, the capacity to
influence around the world. We clearly influence the stance taken
by the European Commission on behalf of the whole European Union,
but we also have our transatlantic relationship and we have our
Commonwealth focused relationships and our relationships, partly
overlapping with the Commonwealth, with developing countries [
we have a very strong position here in terms of knowing how other
countries are feeling about the negotiations, making sure that
is fed back into the Commission, or indeed into the United States,
trying to respond to that and so on". (Q242)
126. There is scope for the United Kingdom
to use its influence within the EU to make the case for agricultural
reform. The Government should also use its strong links with the
US to encourage them to look seriously at reforms to their own
agricultural sector in order to get the Doha Round re-launched.
The Government should continue to use its connections with individual
Commonwealth countries in order to encourage progress on Doha.
127. We urge the United Kingdom Government
to use its connections with the US, Commonwealth countries and
others to press for progress within the Doha Round.