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Actions against imports into the EU | Brussels, 28 November 2018

Commission welcomes agreement on horizontal safeguard regulation

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached today a political agreement on an EU horizontal safeguard regulation.

The agreed regulation will make it easier for the EU to react in case of a sudden surge of imports under bilateral trade agreements, thus preventing possible negative economic effects.

Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said: "The objective of trade agreements is to increase trade flows between partners. With this regulation, the EU will now be well equipped to remedy more efficiently situations where imports increase to the extent that they cause serious economic damage to EU companies. I count on the European Parliament and Member States to swiftly approve the regulation agreed today."

The bilateral trade agreements negotiated by the EU usually contain safeguard mechanisms allowing the EU to temporarily reintroduce custom tariffs when imports under the agreement reach an unexpected high level which lead to serious economic damage to an EU industry. To make these mechanisms operational, the EU must put in place internal rules and procedures defining the investigation and the decision-making process, as well as the form and duration of the measures.

Following the agreement reached today, the process will now become more efficient, but also more coherent, as the same rules will be applied under all future EU trade agreements. In the past, the EU adopted separate regulations for the implementation of the bilateral safeguard clauses for each individual trade agreement, even if the rules put in place for each agreement were very similar. The Commission therefore made in April 2018 a proposal for a horizontal regulation, which lays down standard rules for the implementation of bilateral safeguard clauses for all future trade agreements.

The first agreements to be covered by this horizontal regulation will be, if the European Parliament gives its consent, the EU trade agreement with Japan, followed by the trade agreements with Singapore and Vietnam.

It is now up to the European Parliament and the Member States to confirm the political agreement reached today and give the final greenlight to the proposal before it can enter into force.

In addition, the Commission committed to cover the use of safeguard measures in its annual reporting on implementation of trade agreements.

For more information

Commission initial proposal from April 2018 (EUR-LEX)