Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2005-05-12-Speech-4-039"

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". Mr President, this has been a very useful, rather balanced and proportionate debate, but I well understand the huge anxieties and sensitivities that are excited by this issue of textiles. Let me say that, of all the contributions made since the opening remarks, if I had to identify one contribution with which I was most in sympathy and which most corresponded to my own views and approach, it would be that of Mr Calabuig Rull, because stressing that we need to see China as an opportunity as well as a potential threat and that the containers that are heading towards Europe with all these textiles and other goods and produce need then to be sent back to China filled with goods and produce hits exactly the right note. When I talk about goods and produce I also mean a huge potential and expanding market for European services. I agree that we need to help the textiles industry in Europe to restructure and adapt, and we are giving that assistance. I agree that, if China is to have its own growth accepted by the international economic community, then it needs to reciprocate by opening its own markets to others’ produce and to comply with international agreements. However, I also agree that, if, in the circumstances of this very sudden and very dramatic surge in Chinese exports, we have to take action on our side in order to manage this transition and to smooth these changes, then that action is open to us to take. It may be limited in terms of its content and its duration. None of us should exaggerate – especially for those who are directly concerned with these changes – what is at our disposal to do in order to counter this. At the very least, we can limit the growth of Chinese exports on a temporary basis. It is not open to us, under the WTO rules, to do more than that. However, where the facts justify our doing that, I, certainly, and my colleagues in the Commission will not shrink from doing so. It is easy in a debate like this to talk in generalisations. What we cannot do is act in generalisations. We have to act on a case-by-case basis and on the basis of the facts. Why? Because we must act in a way that is legally defensible. The worst course of action for us in the Commission would be to act in a way that we could not subsequently defend, only to find ourselves challenged in the WTO and forced to reverse the actions we have taken. That would be a tremendous disappointment and setback for those who are most directly affected, and we must be careful. Therefore, we must enforce the rules, but we cannot invent the rules. That is what we must bear in mind throughout this. Also, there is a mixed picture developing in terms both of the impact of import levels on particular commodities and categories of textiles and of the impact on production levels and employment within different parts of the European textiles industry. Not just in the United States, but in some cases also in Europe, import levels are falling. In other cases, Chinese imports and their growth are displacing the imports from third countries. So it is a mixed picture. In terms of the impact of these trade flows on European production and employment, it is true that, in some cases, the impact appears to be dramatic, based on the facts that I was reviewing with my services only yesterday, facts, for example, from Greece, Portugal and Italy. There are some very disturbing developments. I have to take note of those and I have to base my future actions on those facts. In the case of some of our other Member States, I have yet to receive the relevant data and the relevant information. Even certain Member States at the forefront of the demands for me to adopt emergency and urgent procedure have not sent me the facts on which I could base such urgent action. However, I am sure it will be forthcoming. Mr Caspary, Mrs Mann and Mr Martinez raised interesting questions and ideas, and I will write to them in response in due course. Finally, the statement made yesterday by the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, in which he seems to have decided to give instructions to relevant government departments in China to prepare effective action to curb Chinese export growth, is welcome to me. We need, however, to look at the reality of these actions, when they are agreed, and consider the impact they will have. In the light of those, the Commission will consider what future action it will take from here on."@en1

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