Beyond Brexit—MEPs adopt new rules to strengthen EU powers in trade disputes

Beyond Brexit—MEPs adopt new rules to strengthen EU powers in trade disputes

The European Parliament has formally adopted measures strengthening the Enforcement Regulation, endorsing a political agreement reached with the European Council in October 2020, during a first-reading plenary vote on 19 June 2020. The agreed text enables the EU to impose countermeasures against a party found to violate trade rules by a dispute settlement panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO), or in bilateral and regional agreements, while failing to cooperate on the adjudication of the dispute. The European Parliament also extended the regulation’s scope from disputes on goods to those involving services and certain intellectual property rights, including European trade marks, designs and geographical indications, appreciating ‘these account for a large and growing share of world trade and are covered by international trade agreements’. Additionally, MEPs agreed that breaches adversely impacting workers or the environment in a commercial context should be treated with the ‘same attention’ as breaches of market access, with relevant enforcement measures to apply subject to trade agreements’ permission. Following the European Parliament, the European Council will formally adopt the agreed text, which will then be published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) and enter into force 20 days after. Meanwhile, responding to MEPs’ calls for an anti-coercion instrument, the European Commission has agreed to put forward a legislative proposal by the end of 2021 and Member States have pledged to engage.

What’s next?

The European Council will formally adopt the agreed text, which will then be published in the OJEU and enter into force 20 days later. Meanwhile, the European Commission will legislate for an anti-coercion instrument by the end of 2021, with Member States committing to take up the issue.

In remarks, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne MEP (and vice-chair of the EP Committee on International Trade and member of the EP Committee on Petitions), noted:

‘This regulation makes it clear that international trade is founded on rules that everybody needs to respect. No one is exempt from these rules.'

‘Europe continues to stand by the multilateral system and WTO rules. Yet the international dispute settlement mechanism is still blocked. The EU now has another credible, efficient and ambitious tool at its disposal to bolster its trade policies and ensure its strategic autonomy. We now expect the Commission to swiftly introduce a measure to counteract and deter coercive attempts by third countries.’

Source: European Parliament—Press Releases: EU will have stronger powers in trade disputes​

For further detail, see: LNB News 20/01/2021 94.

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About the author:
Mikaela is a Paralegal in the Lexis®PSL Public Law team. She read law at King’s College London and obtained her LLM from University College London. With legal knowledge and experience in multiple jurisdictions and practice areas, and a special interest in international commercial law, Mikaela has comprehensive knowledge of the legal sector’s needs. 

Since joining the Lexis®PSL Public Law team in 2019, Mikaela’s primary focus has been closely monitoring legal developments in the context of Brexit. She also provides support on related subjects and content areas including Local Government and Information Law. Mikaela is involved in LNUK Thrive Wellbeing and Gender Equality Matters working groups and is a member of the LexisNexis Brexit Steering Group.