De Croo calls for ‘geopolitical update’ to EU trade agreements

The EU’s trade agreements need a “geopolitical update” in view of the changing global situation, says Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo. He made the remarks on Thursday at the summit of EU leaders in Brussels, which addressed Europe’s competitiveness among other issues.

“There is a very strong demand [in the Council] for a kind of geopolitical update of everything we do. Trade agreements remain one of the EU’s most important tools, and the world has changed a lot in five years,” he said, referring to Wallonia’s rebellion against the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement in 2016. This entered into force provisionally in 2017, but has only been ratified by Belgium’s federal government and Flanders.

Europe wants “to remain the world’s most important trading bloc, to continue to trade with the rest of the world, but with a little more strategy, a little less naivety”, De Croo said.

"Trade agreements remain one of the EU’s most important tools"

As part of its competitiveness policy, which includes zero-emission industry and regulations on critical raw materials, the Commission wants to finalise a treaty with the Mercosur region – Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.

An agreement was reached in 2019,but several countries, including France, blocked it under the presidency of Jaïr Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Now that former president Lula has returned to power and is open to, among other things, safeguards against deforestation, the Spanish presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2023 could be an opportunity to finalise the agreement. Belgium will take over at the helm of the Council in the first half of 2024.

Council president Charles Michel, who was Belgium’s prime minister at the time of the Walloon rebellion, said he saw a convergence at the Council around the idea that international trade is an important pillar of prosperity, “as well as an instrument to spread our values, with social and environmental standards”.

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo speaks to the press at the EU summit in Brussels © PHOTO ANP JONAS ROOSENS



Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels