End November, a provisional agreement on a proposal to include safeguard measures in trade agreements was reached by the EU Presidency and European Parliament representatives.
Such bilateral measures linked to trade agreements will allow for the temporary withdrawal of tariff preferences and are intended to protect a particular domestic industry from an increase in imports of any product which is causing, or which risks causing, serious injury to that industry. Such clauses are included in most trade agreements, but are not always handled in a consistent manner.
The new law will harmonise such rules for the trade deals with Japan, Vietnam, and Singapore as well as all future agreements. It clarifies that industry associations and trade unions can request a Commission investigation, which may lead to temporary safeguards if the Commission decides they are necessary.
The agreement will now be submitted for political endorsement by EU ambassadors.
For ESC, it is crucial that trade rules are predictable and follow international rules such as World Trade Organisation (WTO) Rules. These new measures are a step in this direction. Next to this, the use of safeguard measures should stay as limited as possible and to be used only if there is a risk of serious injury to industry sectors. ESC will keep a close eye on developments in this respect.