Retailers, importers and manufacturers in Europe are calling on EU policymakers to implement a strong trade agenda promoting open markets and international trade.

Coinciding with the first meeting of the newly-elected European Parliament Committee on International Trade (INTA), more than 1,400 businesses represented by the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) published its 'Road Map for EU Trade Policy 2014-2019'.

The EU, the FTA said, was at a “critical juncture”, where only a liberal trade framework based on clear goals, ambitious negotiations and modern legislation would preserve competitiveness.

Four objectives were identified, including the avoidance of protectionist measures; ambitious trade agreements, including a feasibility assessment of an EU-China FTA; the overhaul of EU trade law; and the importance of promoting sustainable trade.

“Protectionism at EU borders will automatically trigger defensive measures and close export and investment markets,” said FTA director general Jan Eggert.

“This would increase business costs and harm the competitiveness of European companies.”