What is a Preferred Trade Agreement

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In the field of trade in goods, the rules for trade policy are fully established at the level of the European Union. In the case of services and intellectual property, there is a mixed competence, i.e. a shared competence. The EU Commission shapes trade policy in consultation with the member states. The trade policy committee appointed by the Council meets every week in order to be able to ensure a uniform appearance externally and in particular within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Within the federal government, the BMWi is responsible for developing the German position in trade policy and represents this at European and international level.

A new trade strategy for a stronger Europe

On February 18, 2021, the European Commission published a communication on its new trade strategy (“Trade Policy Review”). The leitmotif is the concept of open strategic autonomy, which is based on open markets, rule-based trading and improving the level playing field.

The European Commission identifies three main objectives for medium-term trade policy:

  1. Supporting the recovery and fundamental transformation of the EU economy in line with its green and digital transformation goals
  2. Creation of worldwide rules for a more sustainable and fairer globalization
  3. Strengthening the EU's ability to pursue its interests and enforce its rights - if necessary, independently

From this, the COM derives six fields of activity:

  1. WTO reform
  2. Supporting ecological change and promoting responsible and sustainable value chains
  3. Supporting digital transformation and trade in services
  4. Strengthening the regulatory impact of the EU
  5. Strengthening the EU's partnerships with neighboring countries, enlargement countries and Africa
  6. Increased EU focus on the implementation and enforcement of trade agreements and ensuring a level playing field

A trade strategy appendix describes the European Commission's plans for a WTO reform agenda. In doing so, she focuses on the WTO's contribution to sustainable development. In addition to the environment and climate, this also includes social issues such as gender equality and good working conditions.

Market access strategy

The European Commission wants to open up global markets more and thus increase the competitiveness of European companies. Barriers to market access, especially non-tariff trade barriers, are to be removed so that European companies can better distinguish themselves in specific markets and sectors around the world.

To this end, on April 18, 2007 the European Commission published its communication on the market access strategy "Global Europe: A stronger partnership to deliver Market Access for European Exporters" (PDF: 120.1 KB). The main focus is on closer integration of the European Commission, the EU member states and the European economy. Learn more.

Modern trade protection instruments

In order to be able to protect European companies and industrial locations more effectively against distortions of competition in international trade and unfair foreign trade and subsidy practices, the EU has modernized its trade defense instruments and introduced a new methodology for calculating dumping in EU anti-dumping proceedings, especially for manufacturing Industries in Germany and the EU such as the steel industry is an important signal. The new regulation ensures an effective and effective set of trade protection instruments to defend against unfair trade practices - in particular against dumping when conditions are not in a market economy.

Trade Barriers Ordinance

Based on the so-called "TradeBarriersRegulation" (Trade Barriers Regulation, TBR for short), companies can independently apply to the EU Commission for a procedure against trade barriers without having to involve associations or ministries. If the application is admissible, an investigation will be initiated. This will determine whether the indicated barriers actually exist and whether they have adverse trade effects on the Community industry concerned. If the allegations are confirmed and the parties to the proceedings cannot agree, the community can opt for a formal dispute settlement procedure under an international agreement with the trading partner.