EU proposes new instrument to fight off 'economic coercion'

Brussels, Dec 9 (IANS): The European Commission has proposed a new instrument to protect European Union (EU) member states from allegedly economic coercion by third countries.

"At a time of rising geopolitical tensions, trade is increasingly being weaponised and the EU and its Member States (are) becoming targets of economic intimidation... With this proposal, we are sending a clear message that the EU will stand firm in defending its interests," Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission executive vice-president and commissioner for trade, said while presenting the so-called Anti-Coercion Instrument (ACI).

Examples of economic coercion range from applying extra import duties, to discriminatory selective border checks on goods from a given EU country, or state-sponsored boycotts against the goods or investors of that country, Xinhua news agency quoted Dombrovskis as saying.

The proposed new tool would priorities a soft approach relying on communication and negotiations with the countries applying such measures, following a thorough assessment of whether economic coercion is indeed taking place.

Counter measures would be applied only if all other methods to solve the conflict were to fail.

In such cases, the European Commission foresees "a tailor-made and proportional response for each situation from imposing tariffs and restricting imports from the country in question, to restrictions on services or investment," said a statement by the EU executive.

The proposal for the Anti-Coercion Instrument will be discussed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.



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