Trade and competitiveness policies in the European Council

10-03-2020

In recent years, international trade has gained increasing visibility on the European Council agenda. A high level of economic interconnectedness and the ineluctable rise of emerging economies on the world stage, notably China, have highlighted differences across economic systems and divergences over the impact of certain policies and practices in the global economy. Moreover, the United States administration's pursuit of an 'America first' foreign policy has been accompanied by a trade policy aimed primarily at reducing trade deficits with partners. The existential threat which the World Trade Organization now faces, as the core of the multilateral trading system, has compounded growing trade tensions and translated into a highly unstable global environment. The European Council has reacted to these developments promptly, with the last three years seeing the adoption of measures to strengthen the European Union's capacity to address such challenges. It has placed high emphasis on the need for the EU to be able to defend itself against unfair trade practices, through strengthened defence instruments, greater surveillance of foreign direct investment, and broader access to public procurement markets abroad. The objectives set out in its Strategic Agenda for 2019-24 reflect a need for a more assertive and united European Union on the global stage, able to tackle the technological and environmental challenges of the coming decade.

In recent years, international trade has gained increasing visibility on the European Council agenda. A high level of economic interconnectedness and the ineluctable rise of emerging economies on the world stage, notably China, have highlighted differences across economic systems and divergences over the impact of certain policies and practices in the global economy. Moreover, the United States administration's pursuit of an 'America first' foreign policy has been accompanied by a trade policy aimed primarily at reducing trade deficits with partners. The existential threat which the World Trade Organization now faces, as the core of the multilateral trading system, has compounded growing trade tensions and translated into a highly unstable global environment. The European Council has reacted to these developments promptly, with the last three years seeing the adoption of measures to strengthen the European Union's capacity to address such challenges. It has placed high emphasis on the need for the EU to be able to defend itself against unfair trade practices, through strengthened defence instruments, greater surveillance of foreign direct investment, and broader access to public procurement markets abroad. The objectives set out in its Strategic Agenda for 2019-24 reflect a need for a more assertive and united European Union on the global stage, able to tackle the technological and environmental challenges of the coming decade.