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Political breakthrough on EU anti-coercion trade tool

28 March 2023, 16:28 CET
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Political breakthrough on EU anti-coercion trade tool

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(BRUSSELS) - MEPs and Council negotiators agreed Tuesday to set up a new tool to safeguard the EU's interests and respond to countries seeking to coerce the Union or member states.

The regulation on the protection of the Union and its member states from economic coercion by third countries (Anti-Coercion Instrument - ACI) is designed to protect the EU's strategic and economic interests. It will enable the EU to respond, in line with international law, if it or a member state experiences economic blackmail by a non-EU country in reaction to a particular policy choice or stance, such as parliamentary resolutions. The primary goal of the new instrument is to dissuade non-EU countries from attempting to coerce or to get them to halt coercion, including threats, and avoid escalating the conflict.

The Council will have an important involvement in the decision-making process by determining what constitutes economic coercion. The European Commission will be given implementing powers in decisions on the EU's response measures, while ensuring increased involvement of member states in these decisions.

Among the measures that could be applied to the third country as a response to economic coercion are the imposition of trade restrictions, for example, in the form of increased customs duties, import or export licences, or restrictions in the field of services or public procurement.

The anti-coercion instrument is designed to de-escalate and induce discontinuation of coercive measures through dialogue. The new deterrent fills a gap in the EU toolkit to deal with countries trying to restrict trade or investment in order to force a change in various EU policies.

Parliament denounced in several resolutions the People's Republic of China's economic coercion of Lithuania in response to a Lithuanian policy decision, among others, in January, February and September 2022.

Any countermeasures taken by the EU would be applied only as a last resort.

Further information, European Parliament

Legislative train: "Instrument to deter and counteract coercive actions by third countries"

EP Think Tank: "Proposed anti-coercion instrument" (November 2022)

Procedure file

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