With the update of the EU’s Trade Enforcement Regulation, the European Commission said it is able to act in a broader range of circumstances. The new rules upgrade the EU’s enforcement by introducing mainly two changes. Firstly, the rule upgrade seeks to empower the EU to act to protect its trade interests in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and under bilateral agreements when a trade dispute is blocked despite the EU’s good faith effort to follow dispute settlement procedures (the regulation previously only allowed action after the completion of dispute settlement procedures). Secondly, it aims to expand the scope of the regulation and of possible trade policy countermeasures to services and certain trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (IPR); the regulation previously only permitted countermeasures in goods.

“The European Union must be able to defend itself against unfair trading practices. These new rules will help protect us from those trying to take advantage of our openness”, said Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and EU Commissioner for Trade. “We continue to work towards our first preference, which is a reformed and well-functioning multilateral rulebook with an effective Dispute Settlement System at its core. But we cannot afford to stand defenseless in the meantime. These measures allow us to respond resolutely and assertively.”