EU opts for deterrent measures to avoid trade wars

On Wednesday the EU Commission presented a new "anti-coercion instrument". In future Europe will be able to respond to trade boycotts or punitive tariffs by third countries against a member state or the EU as a whole with counter-sanctions. The aim of the instrument is to prevent such aggressive actions from the outset. In view of recent developments, commentators approve of Brussels' approach.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

This is how Europe can make things happen

For once, the proposals are not a blunt sword, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes approvingly:

“The European Union is seen as a dwarf politically and a worm militarily. Only economically is it regarded as a giant. The single market is one of the largest markets in the world. If the EU Commission speaks with one voice in negotiations on trade agreements, it carries weight. Brussels sets global standards with its rules and regulations. So it is not the much-vaunted common foreign and security policy that impresses other world powers. It's the economy. ... The proposals that the Baltic EU Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis presented to the press in Brussels are based on retaliation and deterrence.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

WTO rules are out of date

Rzeczpospolita says the EU's move was overdue:

“Lithuanian goods are being held in Chinese ports because Beijing wants to force Vilnius to change its stance on Taiwan. Lithuania agreed months ago to allow a Taiwanese representative office to be opened in Vilnius, which angered the Chinese, who demand recognition of the One China Policy. Lithuania is asking for help from Brussels, but under current laws the EU can only use the response instruments available within the WTO framework. These fit less and less with the increasingly aggressive behaviour of various countries. That's why the European Commission announced on Wednesday that it wants to add a new instrument to its arsenal: the ability to respond to economic coercion.”