Trade Policy

With annual exports totalling more than €10 billion each year, spiritsEUROPE has a vital interest in an ambitious EU trade policy which means:

  • The EU’s FTA agenda should focus primarily on markets where the potential for meaningful market access improvements for EU exporters are greatest.
  • The EU’s development policy agenda should recognise that liberalising trade fosters national economic development. Trade agreements with developing economies should aim to secure symmetrical commitments over an appropriate transitional period.
  • Sufficient Commission resources should be allocated to enforce trading partners’ commitments under the WTO and bilateral FTAs. The EU’s Market Access Strategy has proved a useful tool which should be updated.
  • International trade rules do not hinder governments’ right to regulate. Rather, they ensure predictability, non-discriminatory treatment, greater market access and an effective dispute settlement system, and should not be undermined or weakened.

Together with CEEV (wine trade association), we supported Commissioner Malmström’s assertion that trade liberalisation brings strong growth to the EU economy (see detailed position). The EU "Trade for All Strategy" is in line with our expectations.

Bilateral Agreements

Amongst others, discussions on bilateral trade deals are currently ongoing with:

  • Malaysia
  • India
  • Philippines
  • Indonesia
  • USA (on hold)

Market Access

Market access for goods means the conditions, tariff and non-tariff measures, agreed by members for the entry of specific goods into their markets.  In the future, EU prosperity will increasingly depend on the export of high value added EU products and services to rapidly growing emerging markets.  Improving market access for EU products and services is a sine qua non of this process.

With exports in over 150 world markets, one of the key objectives of spiritsEUROPE is to secure free and fair access for EU spirits in third country markets.  Market access improvements for our sector often include improvements with tariffs and also improvements in the regulatory environment, such as certification procedures, customs cooperation, labelling requirements and product standards.

European Commission Market Access Database


If not enforced, trade rules have no value. The EU has a key role in implementing and monitoring agreements.  DG Trade needs the resources to ensure that agreements are respected and operate as the negotiators intended them to operate. Our sector supports an appropriate re-allocation of resources across DGs and within DG Trade to ensure sufficient monitoring of agreements and pursuit of non-compliant practices. Indeed, Europe should not have to negotiate twice for the same concession.  We urge the Commission to focus more on effective enforcement including the recourse to dispute settlement mechanisms (bilateral or multilateral).

Further reading:

  • Trading places: reallocating Commission staff resources – Parliament Magazine
  • Paper tiger? EU trade enforcement as if binding pacts mattered – New Direction


For the 3rd year running, spiritsEUROPE joined a High-Level EU Businesses Delegation led by Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to promote
the “Taste of Europe” abroad. This year’s destination was China. The aim was to increase opportunities for EU agriculture and to help open doors for new exports.  In another word, to help promote the Taste of Europe abroad.

As our distilled spirits are produced from such delightful raw materials as grapes, sugar-cane, molasses, potatoes, cereals, etc. we fully share the ambition of the Commissioner to increase jobs and growth in the sector through trade.

This series of visits started with a trade mission to Mexico and Colombia in February 2016.  This was followed by a visit to China and Japan in April 2016.  Lastly, Indonesia and Vietnam were visited in November 2016.  In May 2017, we accompanied Commissioner Hogan to Canada and in May 2018 to China.

Ulrich Adam (spiritsEUROPE), Commissioner Phil Hogan, Ignacio Sanchez Recarte (CEEV)


The next visit will be in May 2019 in Japan.



European Parliament

Since the signing of the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, the European Parliament (EP) has played an increasingly important role in shaping EU trade policy, bringing about more transparent negotiations and granting them democratic legitimacy. While it is not directly involved in negotiations it has the ultimate power of veto on trade agreements.  For further information on the EP’s work on international trade please visit the INTA homepage.