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G20 Summit should focus on global growth

The G20 Leaders Summit will be held in Bali, Indonesia, 15-17 November. It is an opportunity for us to discuss how we can get the global economy on track. Lars Patrick Berg, German ECR MEP, writes about how to improve trade and economic relations between the EU, the EU and major emerging countries like Brazil, India, and Indonesia.

The Presidency of G20 is currently held by Indonesia. Its original agenda has been overtaken by the shock of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, followed by the global energy crisis, and the dramatic rise in inflation. This summit offers an opportunity to reexamine that original agenda. Joko Widowo, the Indonesian President, has identified three key issues that are important for global prosperity and long-term sustainability.

Because the EU is essential to the EU’s global ambitions, it should lead this effort to support Indonesia’s original G20 agenda.

They include: First, building resilience in global health markets to accelerate the post-COVID recovery. Second, preparing for future pandemics. The second is to drive the sustainable energy transition. Third, promoting inclusive economic development in the world by collaborating with emerging and developed economies.

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What is the EU’s position on these key priorities? And how can we make progress in advance of the Summit?

The EU is a leader in post-COVID health resilience. The vaccination rates are high, there is more economic activity, and the EU and its Member States are more proactive in supporting developing countries, the World Health Organisation, and the global vaccine effort. We are making progress, but there is still much to do.

The picture for the Sustainable Energy Transition is more mixed. The EU leads in some areas such as the commitment to invest in renewables and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Our regulations regarding the use of renewable fuels (including truly sustainable waste products) are driven more by politics and protectionism than science. This has caused great frustration in partner countries.


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Because MEPs are biased against fuels from developing nations, they will ban waste products from palm oil production. This is an important sustainable energy export that Indonesia needs. The recent vote of the Parliament on the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Regulation (“ReFuel EU”) specifically excluded palm oil, regardless its sustainability level.

This is not only unscientific policymaking, but it’s also morally questionable. The commissioners travel around the globe lecturing countries such as Indonesia about the importance global rules (e.g. WTO) and the importance sustainable energy (e.g. use of waste products) – then MEPs propose to end WTO commitments, and create trade discrimination against sustainable energy. This will not help the global energy transition and will create distrust among our allies.

We now reach the third priority of the Summit: inclusive global economic development. The EU is not failing on this metric. Sometimes, our policies are actively preventing progress towards this goal. One of the greatest barriers to growth is protectionist EU regulations. These EU regulations were pushed primarily through domestic lobby groups and non-governmental organizations in an attempt to limit businesses and to free up markets.

The EU, as the largest single integrated market in the world, should be driving global trade. Instead, we are stuck. Trade agreements with India, Indonesia and Mercosur are all in various states or neglect. This is more than 1.5 billion people. We could have better trade conditions, new markets access, and lower costs for European businesses.

Protectionism can also hurt those in developing countries who are dependent on trade and economic growth. This is a losing situation.

G20 Presidency of Indonesia deserves a lot of credit for trying to bring these crucial strategic discussions back before the summit. Yes, there are urgent concerns in Europe: Ukraine support; immediate energy crisis. We cannot lose sight, however, of the larger picture. Our partners have not. It is in everyone’s best interest to commit to this agenda and ensure a sustainable energy transition as well as real global economic cooperation.

Let’s stop imposing trade restrictions and petty bans on the economy. Let’s move for growth.

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