EU Trade Policy Review 2020

International trade plays a central role in the EU’s economy and helps drive its prosperity and that of its partners. But EU’s trade policy is evolving in an increasingly challenging environment both externally and internally. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the growing list of challenges requiring a strong EU trade policy response.

Against this backdrop, the European Commission launched a Trade Policy Review including wide public consultation and stakeholder outreach. This process will help to shape the direction of EU trade policy for the coming years, delivering meaningful responses to challenges such as:

  • Supporting a swift and sustainable economic recovery post-Coronavirus
  • Enhancing the climate and digital transformations of the EU economy
  • Pursuing a model of ‘open strategic autonomy’, to continue reaping the benefits of openness, while protecting Europe from unfair practices
  • Updating the multilateral rulebook, including WTO reform
  • Strengthening EU resilience to deal with future challenges, including pandemics
  • Getting maximum value from the network of EU trade deals

The Launch

On 16 June 2020, the European Commission launched its Trade Policy Review in an online event hosted by the European University Institute and moderated by Bernard Hoekman, coordinator of the RESPECT project.

The Public Consultation

The Trade Policy Review also included a large public consultation. The full RESPECT contribution to the consultation is available here.

The Trade Policy Review Communication

On February 18 2021, the Commission published the communication ‘Trade Policy Review – An Open, Sustainable and Assertive Trade Policy’. The Review identifies trade as one of the EU’s most powerful tools. Further, it emphasises the need for the EU to shape ‘global rules for a more sustainable and fairer ‘globalisation’, identifying six critical areas of focus, including reforming the WTO, promoting sustainable value chains, fostering regulatory cooperation, strengthening relations with partner countries as well as doing more to ensure implementation and enforcement of trade agreements. Many of these areas have been the focus of the Horizon 2020 research project Realising Europe’s Soft Power in External Cooperation and Trade (RESPECT).

In a webinar organised by the European University Institute and moderated by Bernard Hoekman, Ignacio Garcia Bercero (European Commission, DG Trade Acting Director) discussed with Mary E. Lovely and Simon Evenett about the main features of the EU Trade Policy Review and how they can help meet the EU’s domestic and external policy objectives.