European trade policy seen going greener after EU parliament vote

(Reuters News, 27 May 2019) Traditional conservative and socialist parties can no longer form a majority, making them more reliant to pass European laws on support from liberal and Green blocs that want to push climate change up the agenda.

The rise of the Greens, the "Greta effect" of a young Swedish climate activist and the entry of French President Emmanuel Macron's party into the European Parliament are likely to result in a more defensive and climate-oriented EU trade policy.

Sunday's European election saw the traditional conservative and socialist parties that have long run the European Union lose dozens of seats each. Between them, they can no longer form a majority, making them more reliant to pass European laws on support from liberal and Green blocs that both made gains.

The liberal bloc, now third largest in the 751-seat European parliament, has added more than 40 seats, led by 21 members from Macron's new En Marche party, which promised protection for EU business and adherence to the Paris climate accord. The Greens are set to increase their ranks to 69 from 52 seats.

"If you look at the results of the vote, you see a wish of Europeans to be protected, a wish that climate change is taken into account and France will continue aggressively to push certain issues to adapt our trade policy," Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Macron's junior foreign minister, told reporters in Brussels before an EU meeting on trade.

Aside from the environment, France is among the strongest advocates of new measures to force China to open up public tenders to foreign companies. The Greens too want the EU to be firm with China.

Trade pacts have become a hot political topic during the European Parliament's last five-year term, encompassing debates about issues from food safety to climate change.

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Reuters News, 27 May 2019: European trade policy seen going greener after EU parliament vote