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New EU tool to counter political weaponisation of trade: Final green light by the European Parliament

Date

02 Oct 2023

Sections

Global Europe
Under S&D leadership, the European Parliament is set to give its final green light tomorrow to a new EU tool to fight economic threats and unfair trade restrictions by non-EU countries.
The EU will then be able to impose retaliatory measures on third countries that exert economic coercion on it or one of its member states. One example is the trade restrictions China imposed on Lithuania after it announced it was improving  cooperation with Taiwan in June 2021. The new tool could also have been considered when former President Trump threatened to retaliate against the EU digital taxes.
 
According to the regulation negotiated by the European Parliament’s rapporteur Bernd Lange, S&D MEP and chair of the Parliament’s trade committee,  the European Commission will have a maximum of 4 months to examine whether a measure taken by a third country is coercive or not. After which the EU Council will have to confirm it by a qualified majority within 8 to 10 weeks. Finally, the European Commission will have to decide on the nature of the response within 6 months. The aim of the anti-coercion tool is to act as a deterrent, allowing the EU to resolve trade conflicts through negotiation. However, as a last resort it could be used to launch countermeasures against a non-EU country, including a wide range of restrictions related to trade and investment.
 
Bernd Lange, S&D MEP, chair of the European Parliament’s trade committee, and rapporteur on the file, said: 
 
“It is an important step for the EU’s economic security. We are equipping the EU with a new tool in our arsenal of measures intended to make the EU’s trade policy more autonomous and assertive against non-competitive practices. Obviously, the main aim of the anti-coercion tool is to act as a deterrent, but if necessary, the EU must be able to flex its muscles and takes a clear stance against bullying or the political weaponisation of trade. Taking countermeasures is a last resort, but we are ready to assert European sovereignty. We must protect the right of the Union to take democratic and sovereign policy choices without facing coercion.
 
“It is now time for this regulation to enter into force and the EU to continue taking the lead globally with like-minded partners. I am glad that the European Parliament will be involved in all the stages of the process, even being informed about the Commission's assessment on coercion before the Council. We also succeeded in demanding clear timelines for the EU’s reaction, and a robust framework for obtaining reparation of injury. Parliament’s role has been defended and strengthened, and we look forward to swift implementation of the instrument.”
 
Notes to editors: 
The plenary debate on economic coercion by third countries is scheduled tonight at around 7:30 pm.

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