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The Commission, the Council and the Parliament have just reached a deal to revise the EU’s instruments to enforce international trade rules.

“Ensuring Europe's strategic autonomy in an increasingly unstable world must be an absolute priority. The EU can no longer remain passive when others don’t play by the rules. We are, therefore, giving ourselves the concrete means to respond and to secure our status as the world's leading trading power. The European Union is prepared to strike back”, declared Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou MEP, the EPP Group's negotiator of the so-called Trade Enforcement Regulation.

The revision of this law aims at protecting the EU’s interests when third countries unilaterally adopt trade sanctions in access to their market and simultaneously block the WTO’s dispute settlement process. The Enforcement Regulation, adopted in 2014, is currently not equipped to deal with the demise of the WTO's Appellate Body as it only authorises countermeasures at the end of a formal WTO dispute settlement procedure.

With today's agreement, the EU will be able to defend itself with customs duties and quantitative restrictions on the import or export of goods against third countries that threaten its commercial interests and block the dispute settlement procedure of the WTO. “It’s a major step forward and we are happy with what we obtained, however we want more. The Commission has agreed to create a tailored instrument to deter and counteract the bullying of the EU by third countries. This could allow the EU to impose provisional measures pending a dispute settlement. The Commission committed to making a proposal in 2021", said Asimakopoulou.

"With the support of the EPP Group, the scope of the Regulation has also been extended to include services and EU-level intellectual property rights which will allow us to retaliate in those areas, for example by increasing tax on services providers, services or royalties”, he added.

Photo by Karen Eliot, Wikimedia commons.