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EU Trade Policy Day 2021

On Monday 26 April, the European Commission holds its 2021 Trade Policy Day to discuss its new Trade Strategy to promote an open, sustainable and assertive trade policy for the EU.

On Monday 26 April, the European Commission holds its 2021 Trade Policy Day to discuss its new Trade Strategy to promote an open, sustainable and assertive trade policy for the EU.

About the event

European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis will open the conference with a discussion with WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on global trade challenges and the EU’s role in helping find global responses to them.

This full-day virtual event will include panel discussions on the three core objectives of the new EU Trade Strategy:

  1. Supporting the recovery and fundamental transformation of the EU economy in line with its green and digital objectives;
  2. Shaping global rules for a more sustainable and fairer globalisation, and;
  3. Increasing the EU’s capacity to pursue its interests and enforce its rights, including autonomously where needed.

The event is an opportunity for everyone interested in hearing from a range of officials and experts on the present and future of EU trade policy and of global trade. We will seek answers to a variety of questions, including:

  • How should the EU respond to global challenges including growing unilateralism, the crisis of the international rules-based trading order, the acceleration of climate change, and the digital transformation?
  • How can we reform the WTO so that it can support the stability and predictability of international trade?
  • How can global trade rules contribute to a more sustainable and fairer globalisation, and address in particular the challenges associated with the green transition?
  • How can the EU maximise the benefits of international trade to its companies, and how can the EU enforce its rights more assertively?

Download the programme


08:50 - 09:00 | 'Digital Doors' open

'Doors' open for participants to join online.

09:00 - 09:15 | Event opening and Welcome

Introduction by Leopoldo Rubinacci, European Commission

09:15 - 10:20 | Global responses to global challenges: The role of the EU and the WTO


  • Maria Tadeo, Bloomberg


10:20 - 10:30 | Coffee break

10:30 - 11:30 | Multilateralism as an engine of global recovery

  • Global megatrends
  • Role of multilateralism/global rules
  • WTO reform


  • Marianne Petsinger, Chatham House


11:30 - 14:00 | Lunch break

14:00 - 15:00 | Global trade rules for more sustainable and fairer globalisation

  • Towards a global trade and climate initiative
  • Balancing bilateral commitments and autonomous measures


  • Iana Dreyer, BorderLex


15:00 - 16:00 | Enforcing rights and values

  • Creating opportunities for EU SMEs
  • Mobilising enforcement capacity 
  • Sustainability enforcement


  •  Elvire Fabry, Institut Jacques Delors


16:00 - 16:30 | Closing comments

Closing comments & final questions


Léa Auffret, BEUC (European Consumer Organisation)

Léa Auffret is Senior Trade Policy Officer and Trade Team Leader at BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation. Within BEUC, Ms Auffret follows EU developments around consumer rights in the trade context. She leads the Trade Team coordinating BEUC’s policies in the area of free trade agreements and related topics.

Ms Auffret holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs with a specialisation on International Trade from Le Havre University in France and a Master’s degree in European Politics and Administration from the College of Europe in Bruges. Prior to joining BEUC, she acquired experience in France, Latin America and Brussels.

Tanja Buzek, European Economic and Social Committee

Tanja Buzek is Chair of the International Trade Follow-up Committee of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). She works on EU Liaison Affairs for the German services trade union ver.di, representing more than two million workers in both the private and public sectors.

Prior to that, she held various positions within the trade union movement working on international and European affairs in Vienna and Brussels. Ms Buzek is rapporteur of a number of EESC trade-related opinions, including on TSD chapters in FTAs and sustainable supply chains and decent work in international trade. She is a member of the Domestic Advisory Groups for Japan and Korea and Vice-Chair of the CETA DAG.

She holds a Master’s degree in political science and history.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, European Commission

Valdis Dombrovskis is Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for an Economy that Works for People and Commissioner for Trade.

Previously, he was Vice-President of the European Commission for the Euro and Social Dialogue from 2014 to 2019, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union from 2016 to 2019.

A MP and MEP, Mr Dombrovskis served three consecutive terms as Prime Minister of Latvia (from February 2009 until beginning of 2014), becoming the longest-serving elected head of government in Latvia’s history.

He was previously a senior economist and Chief Economist at the Bank of Latvia (1998-2002), Minister of Finance (2002-2004), and an Observer at the Council of the European Union (2003-2004). He was elected as Member of the European Parliament three times (2004-2009, 2014 and 2019).

Born in 1971, Mr Dombrovskis graduated with a degree in physics from the University of Latvia (1993) and economics from Riga University of Technology (1995). He received his Master’s degree in physics in 1995 from the University of Latvia.

He is the author of several books and scientific publications. In November 2014, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis was awarded the Order of the Three Stars (Triju Zvaigžņu ordenis), the highest state decoration of the Republic of Latvia.

Ignacio Garcia Bercero, European Commission

Ignacio Garcia Bercero is Director in charge of Multilateral Affairs, Strategy, Analysis and Evaluation at DG Trade in the European Commission.

Active at the European Commission since 1987, he participated in the Uruguay Round negotiations and was subsequently posted in the EU Delegation to the United Nations in New York. Upon his return to Brussels, he worked in the preparation of what eventually became the Doha Development agenda and was head of unit for legal affairs and WTO dispute settlement.

From 2005 until 2011 he was Director responsible for the areas of Sustainable Development, Bilateral Trade Relations (South Asia, South-East Asia, Korea, Russia and ex-CIS countries, EuroMed and the Middle East). He was also the Chief Negotiator for the EU-Korea and EU-India Free Trade Agreements. From 2012 he was responsible for overseeing EU activities in the field of Neighbouring Countries, US and Canada and was Chief Negotiator for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Mr Garcia Bercero has written several papers and publications on WTO matters, including WTO reform, Dispute Settlement, Competition Policy and Regulatory Cooperation.

In 2020 he completed a Fellowship at Saint Anthony’s College, Oxford where his research focused on WTO reform.

Mr Garcia Bercero holds a Law Degree from the Law Faculty of Universidad Complutense, Madrid and a Master of Laws Degree (with Distinction) from University College, London.

Heidi Hautala, Vice-President, European Parliament

Heidi Hautala is a Vice-President of the European Parliament, and a Member of the European Parliament in the Greens/EFA group.

She was elected as a Vice-President of the European Parliament in October 2017 and serves on the Committee on International Trade and the Subcommittee on Human Rights. In 2017, she established a Working Group on Responsible Business Conduct in the European Parliament.

In Finland, Ms Hautala served as a Member of Parliament from 1991 to 1995 and from 2003 to 2009. From 2011 to 2013, she was the Minister for International Development and State Ownership Steering.

She holds a Master's degree in Agriculture and Forestry.

Bernd Lange, Member of the European Parliament

Bernd Lange has been a German MEP in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group since 2009. He is the rapporteur on corporate due diligence and corporate accountability issues.

He has been the Chairman of the Committee on International Trade and rapporteur on EU-US trade relations since 2014. He is also Chair of the Fair Trade Working Group of the European Parliament since 2019.

He was also the S&D trade policy spokesperson between 2012 and 2014.

Prior to this, Mr Lange headed the economic, environmental and Europe unit of the German Trade Union Confederation in the Niedersachsen-Bremen-Sachsen/Anhalt district between 2005 and 2009. Previously, Mr Lange was an MEP between 1994 and 2004 and was Vice-Chair of the Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy between 1997 and 1999.

Mr Lange studied Lutheran theology and politics at the University of Göttingen.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). She is an economist and international development expert with over 30 years of experience. She was Chair of the Board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (2016-2020), and the African Risk Capacity (2014-2020), and Co-Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.  Previously, she served as Senior Advisor at Lazard and sat on the Boards of Standard Chartered PLC and Twitter Inc. Dr Okonjo-Iweala was appointed as an AU COVID-19 Special Envoy and WHO COVID-19 Special Envoy.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala served twice as Nigeria’s Finance Minister (2003-2006, 2011-2015), the first woman to hold the position, and spent a 25-year career at the World Bank rising to the No. 2 position of Managing Director.

In 2020 Dr Okonjo-Iweala was named Forbes African of the Year. She has been ranked by Fortune as one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders (2015) and by Forbes as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World consecutively for four years. She holds a Bachelor’s in Economics from Harvard University and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Geneviève Pons, Europe Jacques Delors

Geneviève Pons is an honorary Director of the European Commission and, since 2020, she is Director-General of the think-tank ‘Europe Jacques Delors’ in Brussels.

She was in charge of environment and climate matters in Jacques Delors’ Cabinet during his last two mandates as president of the Commission (1991-1995). She then held several management positions in the European Commission. Ms Pons was appointed Director of the Legal Service of the International Labour Organisation in 2013 and Director of the European Office of WWF in June 2015. She is co-author with Pascal Lamy and Pierre Leturcq of a series of publications on greening trade policy.

She is a graduate from the Sorbonne, Sciences-Po Paris and ENA.

Denis Redonnet, European Commission

Denis Redonnet is an economist by training, and started his career as a corporate banker for a French bank in the city of London.

Since 1995, he has been a career European Commission official, having held positions in the monetary, international economic affairs and internal market directorate-generals of the EU executive. He served as advisor to EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and a Deputy Chief of Staff to EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Afterwards he headed the WTO division and then the Strategy division in the Directorate-General for Trade in the European Commission. 

Between 2015 and 2020, he acted as Director for ‘WTO, Legal Affairs and Trade in Goods’ in DG Trade in the European Commission.

In July 2020, he was appointed Deputy Director-General and Chief Trade Enforcement Officer in the Directorate-General for Trade in the European Commission.

Martin Sandbu, Financial Times

Martin Sandbu is the Financial Times's European Economics Commentator. He also writes Free Lunch, the FT's weekly newsletter on the global economic policy debate. He has been writing for the FT since 2009, when he joined the paper as Economics Leader Writer.

Before joining the FT, he worked in academia and policy consulting. He has taught and carried out research at Harvard, Columbia and the Wharton School, and has advised governments and NGOs on natural resources and economic development. He is the author of three books: on business ethics, the euro, and on ‘the economics of belonging’. He was educated at the universities of Oxford and Harvard.

Luisa Santos, BusinessEurope

Luisa Santos is Deputy Director-General at BusinessEurope, responsible for international relations and Chair of BusinessEurope’s EU-UK Task Force. She was a member of the TTIP Advisory Group and is now a member of the Expert Group on EU trade agreements of the European Commission. 

Her principal experience is in trade and the textiles sector, having acted first as the chief representative for the Portuguese textile industry in Brussels, and later as Trade and Industry Manager for Euratex; the European Apparel and Textile Confederation. She was also the manager responsible for international partnerships – including a joint venture in India – for a leading Portuguese textile company.

Her academic background is in law and management.

Rupert Schlegelmilch, European Commission

Mr Schlegelmilch studied law and political science in Freiburg im Breisgau and Berlin. He joined the German Foreign Service in 1987 and the European Commission Directorate-General for External Relations in 1993. From 1998 to 2003, he worked on WTO matters in the European Commission Delegation in Geneva.

From 2003 to 2010, Mr Schlegelmilch was responsible at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade (DG TRADE) for the EU’s bilateral trade relations first with China, and later for trade relations with the Americas and South Asia, Korea and ASEAN.

In 2011 he became the Director in DG TRADE for Trade in Services, Investment, Government Procurement and the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). He has been the EU’s Chief Negotiator for the EU-Singapore, the EU-Ukraine, and the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreements.

From 2016 to 2019, Mr Schlegelmilch served as the European Union’s Ambassador to the OECD and UNESCO in Paris.

In October 2019, he returned to DG TRADE in Brussels as the Director for the United States, Canada and Latin America as well as Agriculture and food safety trade issues.

James Thornton, Client Earth

James Thornton is the founding CEO of ClientEarth. He has many years of experience as an environmental lawyer and social entrepreneur.

Mr Thornton is a member of the bars of New York, California and the Supreme Court of the United States, and a solicitor of England and Wales. He also found the Citizens’ Enforcement Project at NRDC in New York. He founded the Los Angeles Office of NRDC and was Editor-in-Chief of the New York University Law Review, where he later served as Adjunct Associate Professor of Environmental Law. He has also been an executive in several other sectors of the non-profit world.

He graduated from Yale with honours in philosophy.

Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Member of the European Parliament

Marie-Pierre Vedrenne is a French lawyer and politician who was elected as a Member of the European Parliament in 2019.

She is Vice-President of the International Trade Committee and a member of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee. Until her election in 2019, she directed the Maison de l'Europe in Rennes.

Ms Vedrenne completed her studies in European and WTO law in Rennes and she was the national vice-president of the Young Europeans.

Sabine Weyand, Director-General, DG TRADE, European Commssion

Sabine Weyand is Director-General for Trade at the European Commission. Before, she was Deputy Chief Negotiator of the Commission Task Force for the Preparation and Conduct of the Negotiations with the United Kingdom under Article 50 of the TEU from October 2016 to May 2019.

She joined the European Commission in 1994 where she worked on industry and trade issues before serving in the Cabinets of Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and heading the private office of Development Commissioner Louis Michel. She then became Director in the Secretariat-General of the Commission in charge of policy coordination on economic, social and environmental policies before joining DG Trade in 2016 as Deputy Director-General, covering multilateral trade policy, trade relations with North America and European neighbourhood countries as well as trade defence.

Ms Weyand holds an M.A. degree in political science and economics from Freiburg University, a Master's degree from the College of Europe and a Ph.D. from Tübingen University.

  • international trade | World Trade Organisation
  • Monday 26 April 2021, 08:45 - 16:30 (CEST)
  • Live streaming available
Trade topics
  • Trade policy
Event type
  • Trade Policy Day

Practical information

Monday 26 April 2021, 08:45 - 16:30 (CEST)
Directorate-General for Trade