Spotlight: EU to push for six priorities at G20 summit

BRUSSELS, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) — Against the backdrop of weak economic recovery and multiple political uncertainties, the European Union (EU) has high hopes the upcoming G20 summit in China will push forward its main priorities.

The leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies, including the EU and four of its member states — Germany, France, Britain and Italy — are scheduled to meet in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou on Sept. 4 and 5, to try and take the global economy out of a low-growth trap.

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will represent the EU, the biggest union of developed countries in the world, at the summit.

Ahead of their departure to China, the EU leaders released a joint letter to its member states, highlighting the bloc’s priorities at the G20 summit and calling for political support and collective action.

TACKLING REFUGEE CRISIS

Foremost, the EU expected the upcoming Hangzhou summit could generate a comprehensive global response to address the unprecedented refugee and migration crisis and its root causes.

More than a million migrants and refugees crossed into Europe last year, sparking a crisis as EU countries struggled to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with the challenge.

In the joint letter, the leaders said they would urge the G20 countries to continue to support international efforts, and contribute to achieving successful outcomes at the forthcoming summit on addressing the refugee crisis.

“We will call for scaling up humanitarian and development assistance, resettlement, support for refugees and their host communities through international financial institutions and tackling irregular migration,” stated the letter.

As a multilateral platform to tackle the common challenges facing the world economy, the EU leaders said they believed the G20 had the expertise to make practical contributions through trade, development cooperation, and access to education and job opportunities for refugees.

BOOSTING JOBS, GROWTH AND INVESMENT

Almost a decade after the global financial crisis rattled the EU’s economy, European countries have been struggling to get back to pre-recession levels.

However, Europeans still do not feel the benefits of growth, generally taking a depressed view of the economic outlook.

Therefore, the EU leaders said they would underline the importance of a credible narrative for sustainable and inclusive growth at the summit, which puts to work all available policy tools: monetary, fiscal and structural.

In this regard, a key deliverable will be the G20 Hangzhou Action Plan and the updated Growth Strategies, according to the letter.

“We will call for accelerating the implementation of these strategies, keeping in mind the objective the G20 set in Brisbane to lift global growth by 2.0 percent by 2018.”

The EU welcomed the “Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda” set by China during its first presidency of G20, with principles and indicators to measure progress on structural reforms.

Noting that the European Investments Plan was firmly on track to deliver the objective of mobilizing at least 315 billion euros(351.08 billion U.S. dollars) in additional investments in the real economy by mid-2018, the letter said “there are strong synergies between the investment priorities of the EU and the G20.”

OPEN TRADE AND INVESTMENT

As the world’s “economic steering committee,” the G20 will discuss how to reverse the slowdown in the growth of trade and foreign investment.

The EU leaders said they hoped the G20 summit would reinvigorate efforts to open markets and level the playing field, and to communicate the benefits of trade to citizens while addressing their concerns.

Amid sluggish economic performance and slumping global trade, a tendency of free trade skepticism has been on the rise in Europe recently.

“The G20 has a particular responsibility to buttress the multilateral trading system. It should therefore provide genuine guidance for the future global trade and investment agenda,” stated the letter.

The EU stressed the pledge to resist protectionism should not only be renewed but reinforced in practice.

Noting the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement should be ratified this year and fully implemented, the EU said it was time to open up discussions in the WTO to new issues such as digital trade, investment, and export restrictions.

“As a first step towards greater policy coherence in the area of investment, we will endorse the G20 guiding principles for global investment policy-making,” the letter said.

Furthermore, the EU said it expected the G20 to give a strong push for concluding the environmental goods agreement in 2016, which will be good not only for global economic growth but also for the environment.

Besides, the EU leaders list three more priorities of the bloc at the upcoming summit, which were: pushing forward the work on international tax transparency and combating the financing of terrorists, building a resilient international monetary and financial system and taking forward the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In the joint letter, the EU leaders said they were resolved to ensure the Hangzhou summit would be another important milestone in strengthening the global economic recovery.

“The EU looks forward to discussing key international challenges with its G20 partners in Hangzhou,” the letter said.

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