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Source: European Parliament

Governments across the globe are focusing their limited resources on their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing first the health emergency and then the economic and social recovery. This has not upset trade negotiations, which, thanks to digital technology, have continued, both within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and at bilateral and regional level. This puts those countries at a disadvantage which have a digital lag and which, with insufficient resources to tackle the health aspects of the pandemic, have had to redeploy public officials and managers to handling the emergency. In the current context, trade negotiations should focus on removing all remaining barriers obstructing the timely and affordable supply of life-saving medicines, protective gear, diagnostic equipment and vaccines. In view of this, does the Commission intend to push, at the WTO and in all appropriate fora, for real progress in eliminating such barriers, particularly with regard to the TRIPS Agreement?

Finally, in order to reduce the likelihood of similar pandemics occurring in future as a result of biodiversity loss, now, more than ever, it is essential that the EU’s future trade agreements have no negative environmental consequences. To this end, does the Commission intend to enhance the environmental chapters in future trade agreements by introducing legally binding clauses to protect biodiversity and enforce commitments arising from the Paris Agreement?

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