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MEPs approve Dombrovskis’ new role as trade chief

Today, MEPs in the European Parliament plenary approved Valdis Dombrovskis as the EU’s new trade chief with 515 votes in favour, 110 votes against and 70 abstentions.

Dombrovskis, who had already been serving as executive vice-president of the European Commission, was called on by Ursula von der Leyen to replace Phil Hogan after the Irish commissioner resigned in late August.

Dombrovskis was widely seen as having passed his hearing with flying colours last Friday (2 October). International trade committee chair Bernd Lange tweeted right after the examination, “very solid performance from @VDombrovskis at today’s hearing in @EP_Trade. I appreciate his attention to detail and clear commitments, a very refreshing performance compared to other hearings.”

In comparison, Hogan’s hearing last year went far less smoothly—MEPs required the Irishman to submit written answers to questions after the session was over because he provided some vague responses to queries about the carbon border tax and other issues.

During his hearing, the EU’s new trade chief promised to respect the European Parliament’s refusal to sign off on Mercosur until the Latin American countries—especially Brazil—could demonstrate their willingness to implement the deal’s sustainability provisions. But Dombrovskis made clear that he was against reopening the agreement itself.

Dombrovskis also revealed that if approved as the EU’s trade commissioner, he would spearhead a multilateral green initiative for goods and services at the WTO. He promised to draft a proposal for the WTO’s next ministerial conference set to be held in June 2021 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

For an item-by item granular understanding of Dombrovskis’ trade policy stances on topics ranging from relations with the US and China to the Energy Charter Treaty and child labour, read more here.

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