On 13 September 2017, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union Address announced that he wants to strengthen the EU's trade agenda by negotiating and concluding FTAs while ensuring reciprocity as well as investment screening. In parallel, the Commission published a communication entitled "A Balanced and Progressive Trade Policy to Harness Globalisation" providing more details and announcing more transparency on the EU's trade policy. In order to progress on new FTAs, Juncker wants to keep investment protection out of FTAs, as this would avoid the need for ratification by all regional parliaments of the Member States. Various EU Member States (including France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands) are unconvinced by this approach. They fear that individual countries may lose investment protection benefits if they rely solely on a bilateral approach, and that the EU would lose leverage when negotiating other trade related issues in FTAs if there is no linked discussion on investment protection with the partner country. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrm has indicated that the split approach should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

 

On 24 October 2017, the Commission published its Work Programme for 2018. On trade, the report promises to "deliver on a progressive and ambitious trade agenda, striking a balance between openness and reciprocity and enforcement of social and environmental standards." The Commission aims to finalise FTAs with Japan, Singapore and Vietnam, pursue negotiations with Mercosur and Mexico and advance negotiations with Australia and New Zealand.