Priority 8 - A balanced and progressive trade policy to harness globalisation

EU-US Free Trade.png

Reduce or eliminate trade barriers

Protecting European industries and jobs against unfair trade

European Commission Work Program 2019

Screening of Foreign Direct Investments into the EU


On the 19th of March 2019, the Regulation (EU) 2019/452 on the verification of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Union entered into force. This Regulation establishes a framework for the verification of foreign direct investment by member states for reasons of security or public order and entrenches a mechanism for cooperation between member states as well as regulates cooperation between member states and the European Commission in the field of foreign direct investment security or public order. The regulation is based on a legislative proposal from the Commission of 13 September 2017.

New EU-Mercosur trade agreement


Agreement in principle: On the 1st of July 2019, the European Commission published the negotiating results of the trade part of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement.

Access of Third Country Goods and Services to the EU's Internal Market



Brexit Preparedness - Tariff Rate Quotas Included in the WTO


Non-legislative, Q1 2021.

European Commission Work Program 2018

Trade for All Strategy

  • JEFTA: On the 17th of July 2018, Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, signed the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), also known as JEFTA. The agreement will remove the vast majority of the 1 billion euro of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan, and has led to the removal of a number of long-standing regulatory barriers, for example on cars and agricultural products. It will also open up the Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in a range of other sectors. (More)

  • Post-Cotonou-Agreement - EU-ACP Partnership: On the 22nd of June 2018, the European Commission obtained the negotiating mandate from the Council to open negotiations for a new EU-ACP partnership agreement (Post-Cotonou) with 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). The existing framework, known as the Cotonou agreement, is due to expire in February 2020. (More)

  • Negotiations for a EU-New Zealand Trade Agreement: On the 21st of June 2018, the EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and New Zealand's Minister for Trade David Parker officially launched negotiations for a EU-New Zealand Trade Agreement. (More)

  • EU-US trade conflict: On the 20th of June 2018, the European Commission imposed retaliatory duties on US imports ("rebalancing measures") in response to the US tariffs on steel and aluminium exports from the EU. The measures will immediately target a list of products worth 2.8 billion euro and came into effect on the 22th June. The list of US imports that will face an extra duty at the EU border includes steel and aluminium products, agricultural goods and a combination of various other products from US states that by majority voted for President Donald Trump. By putting these duties in place the EU is exercising its rights under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. (More)

  • Negotiations for an EU-Australia Trade Agreement: On the 18th of June 2018, EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Trade Minister of Australia Steven Ciobo officially launched negotiations for a trade agreement between the EU and Australia. (More)

  • EU trade defence rules: On the 8th of June 2018, new EU trade defence rules become effective. All new investigations initiated on or after this date will be subject to the revised anti-dumping and anti-subsidy rules. As a result of changes to the so-called 'lesser duty rule', in some cases, the EU may be able to impose higher duties. This will apply to all anti-subsidy cases, as well as antidumping cases concerning imports produced using raw materials and energy provided at an artificially low price. The first proposals on a reform of the EU's trade defence instruments were put forward by the Barroso Commission in 2013. (More)

  • EU-US trade conflict: On the 6th of June 2018, the European Commission endorsed the decision to impose additional duties on the full list of US products notified to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as part of the EU's response to the US tariffs on steel and aluminium products. The imposition of rebalancing duties on a list of selected US products is part of the three-pronged response outlined by the European Commission, that includes the launch of legal proceedings against the US in the WTO (on 1 June) and the possible triggering of safeguard action to protect the European market from disruptions caused by the diversion of steel from the United States market. (More)

  • EU-Mexico Trade Agreement: On the 21st of April 2018 the European Union and Mexico reached a new agreement on trade, part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement. Practically all trade in goods between the EU and Mexico will now be duty-free, including in the agricultural sector. Simpler customs procedures will further benefit the EU's industry, including in sectors like pharmaceuticals, machinery and transport equipment. The agreement also lays down progressive rules on sustainable development. Among other things, the EU and Mexico have committed to effectively implementing their obligations under the Paris Agreement on climate change. It will also be the first EU trade agreement to tackle corruption in the private and public sectors. (More)

  • JEFTA: On the 18th of April 2018 the Commission presented the outcome of negotiations for the Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan and the trade and investment agreements with Singapore to the Council. This is the first step towards the signature and conclusion of these agreements. Once approved by the Council, the agreements will be sent to the European Parliament, aiming for the entry into force of the trade agreements with Japan and Singapore before the end of the current mandate of the European Commission in 2019; the investment protection agreement with Singapore will follow its ratification procedure also at Member State level. At the same time, negotiations with Japan continue on investment protection standards and investment protection dispute resolution. The firm commitment on both sides is to move towards an agreement in the investment protection negotiations as soon as possible, in light of the shared commitment to a stable and secure investment environment in Europe and Japan. (More)

European Commission Work Program 2017

Trade for All Strategy

  • On the 20th of December 2017, the EU's new trade defence legislation (Regulation 2017/2321), an integral part of President Juncker's agenda on "A Europe That Protects", enters into force. It is supposed to change the way the EU tackles dumped and subsidised imports from countries with significant state-induced market distortions. It introduces a new way of calculating whether dumping has occurred in imports into the EU from countries where the economy is distorted owing to state interference. (More)

  • On the 3rd of October 2017 negotiators of the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on the proposal adopted by the Commission in November 2016 to change the EU's anti-dumping and anti-subsidy legislation. These changes will enable Europe's trade defence instruments to deal with current realities – notably overcapacities – in the international trading environment, while fully respecting the EU's international obligations in the legal framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). (More)

  • On the 14th of September 2017 the European Commission unveiled proposals today to set up a European framework for screening foreign direct investment into the European Union. In parallel, the Commission will start a detailed analysis of the foreign direct investment flows into the EU and set up a coordination group with Member States to help identify joint strategic concerns and solutions in the area of foreign direct investment. (More)

  • On the 17th of January 2017, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and United States Trade Representative Michael Froman published a joint assessment of the progress made in the negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) since negotiations started in July 2013. (More)

European Commission Work Program 2016

Follow - up to the Trade and Investment Strategy: TTIP

  • On the 29th of February 2016 the European Commission issued the legal texts that will put in place the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. This includes the Privacy Shield principles companies have to abide by, as well as written commitments by the U.S. Government (to be published in the U.S. Federal Register) on the enforcement of the arrangement, including assurance on the safeguards and limitations concerning access to data by public authorities. This new framework reflects the requirements set by the European Court of Justice in its ruling from the 6th of October 2015. (More)

  • On the 27th of April 2016 the European Commission published a progress report presenting a detailed break-down of the ongoing negotiation of a trade agreement between the EU and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The timing of the publication suggests that the Commission intends to counter the narrative that too little is happening on TTIP. (More)

  • On the 12th of July 2016 the European Commission adopted the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. Since presenting the draft Privacy Shield on the 29th of February 2016, the Commission has drawn on the opinions of the European data protection authorities (Art. 29 working party) and the European Data Protection Supervisor, and the resolution of the European Parliament to include a number of additional clarifications and improvements. The European Commission and the U.S. notably agreed on additional clarifications on bulk collection of data, strengthening the Ombudsperson mechanism, and more explicit obligations on companies as regards limits on retention and onward transfers.
    The "adequacy decision" will be notified today to the Member States and thereby enter into force immediately. On the U.S. side, the Privacy Shield framework will be published in the Federal Register, the equivalent to our Official Journal. The U.S. Department of Commerce will start operating the Privacy Shield. Once companies have had an opportunity to review the framework and update their compliance, companies will be able to certify with the Commerce Department starting August 1. In parallel, the Commission will publish a short guide for citizens explaining the available remedies in case an individual considers that his personal data has been used without taking into account the data protection rules. (More)

European Commission Work Program 2015

A Trade and Investment Strategy for Jobs and Growth


On the 14th of October 2015 the EU-Commission proposed a new trade and investment strategy for the European Union, entitled “Trade for All: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy”. This new strategy will make EU trade policy more responsible by basing it on three key principles:

  1. Effectiveness: Making sure trade actually delivers on its promise of new economic opportunities.
  2. Transparency: Opening up negotiations to more public scrutiny by publishing key negotiating texts from all negotiations, as has been done in the TTIP negotiations.
  3. Values: Safeguarding the European social and regulatory model at home. (More)

ZEI Related Publications

Trump and TTIP: Consequences for TTIP after the US elections

Adam Ryckaert

ZEI Insights, Nr. 44 November 2016.

When data travels - The Commission’s objective of making EU data protection travel across the Atlantic

Robbert Jaspers

ZEI Insights, Nr. 35 February 2016.

TTIP: the American Debate

Adam Ryckaert

ZEI Insights, Nr. 32 October 2015.

Rewriting the rules: the consequences of TTIP on global trade

Matteo Scotto

ZEI Insights, Nr. 22 May 2015.


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