New EU trade strategy emphasises international regulatory cooperation


The EU Commission recently announced the priorities of EU trade policy for the coming years. They include efforts to promote international collaboration, the adoption of international standards worldwide and creating standards for digital trade.

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On 18 February 2021, the European Commission released its new trade strategy An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy. It sets out the main priorities of EU trade policy for the next decade: consolidating international partnerships and regulatory cooperation, promoting the green and digital transition and strengthening the multilateral trading system around the World Trade Organization (WTO).


Promoting international standardisation

The EU has long been a driving force in the development of international standards and regulations, for example by contributing to the work of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In doing so, the EU works on reducing international trade barriers. However, in many industries and countries, the uptake of international standards can still be improved.

The new trade strategy aims to strengthen the EU’s regulatory impact. For European trade policy, international partnerships are important, among other things, because they promote the mutual recognition of international standards. To this end, the EU intends to intensify regulatory dialogues with Asian and Latin American countries.


New rules for digital trade

The digital transformation is one of the great challenges of our time. The EU Commission therefore stresses the need for more ambitious international standards in the fields of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence. It also emphasises the importance of international rules for digital trade. Cross-border data flows exemplify why a common international regulatory framework for data protection is necessary. This framework could be based on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


Strengthening international partnerships

Multilateralism is at the heart of the European Union. The EU Commission announced that it would intensify dialogue with important partner countries, including the major growth regions of China and India. This ties in with recent developments in trade cooperation. At the end of 2020, the EU and China had finalised the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). During the first meeting of the EU-India High-Level Dialogue on Trade and Investment on 5 February, India and the EU had reaffirmed the importance of collaboration in fields such as regulation, market access and new technologies. They also stressed the benefits of free trade agreements.


Access the Communication of the European Commission on the new strategy here.

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