Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono today announced the successful conclusion of the final discussions on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Building on the political agreement in principle reached during the EU-Japan Summit on 6 July 2017, negotiators from both sides have been tying up the last details in order to finish the legal text. This process is now finalised.
The way to today's outcome was paved by the strong personal engagement of the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe throughout the process and notably in 2017 at the occasion of their meetings held in Brussels, in March and in the margins of the G7 Summit in Taormina, in May.
The conclusion of these negotiations is an important milestone to put in place the biggest bilateral trade agreement ever negotiated by the European Union. The Economic Partnership Agreement will open huge market opportunities for both sides, strengthen cooperation between Europe and Japan in a range of areas, reaffirm their shared commitment to sustainable development, and include for the first time a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.
The outstanding technical discussions that have taken place since July have included: stabilising the commitments of the EU and Japan on tariffs and services; settling on the final provisions for protection of EU and Japanese Geographical Indications; concluding the chapters on good regulatory practices and regulatory cooperation, and transparency; strengthening the commitment to the Paris agreement in the trade and sustainable development chapter; as well as clearing up a number of minor remaining issues in several parts of the agreement.
The Economic Partnership Agreement will remove the vast majority of the €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, as well as a number of long-standing regulatory barriers. It will also open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors.
The deal also includes a comprehensive chapter on trade and sustainable development; sets the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection; strengthens EU and Japan's actions on sustainable development and climate change and fully safeguards public services.
Concerning data protection, which is being dealt with separately from the Economic Partnership Agreement, a Joint Statement was issued during the July Summit, in which the EU and Japan stress the importance of ensuring a high level of privacy and security of personal data as a fundamental right and as a central factor of consumer trust in the digital economy, which also further facilitate mutual data flows, leading to the development of digital economy.
This announcement means that the EU and Japan will now start the legal verification of the text, also known as "legal scrubbing".
Once this exercise is completed, the English text of the agreement will be translated into the other 23 official languages of the EU, as well as into Japanese.
The Commission will then submit the agreement for the approval of the European Parliament and EU Member States, aiming for its entry into force before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in 2019