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Trade policy serving the Europe 2020 strategy

European trade policy aims to increase the EU’s competitiveness. It offers a framework to deepen strategic economic relations and defend European interests worldwide. Its objectives must be adapted to the new global challenges and to the new strategy for the sustainable growth of the EU by 2020.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – Trade, Growth and World Affairs – Trade Policy as a core component of the EU’s 2020 strategy [COM(2010) 612 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The Commission presents new guidelines for European trade policy. The policy must contribute to the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, in view of the impact of international trade on the sustainable growth of the European Union (EU).

The development of an open trade policy and international investment flows should thus:

  • contribute to the intelligent growth of the EU and the spread of innovation by removing barriers to international trade in goods and services and to investment. Stronger trade relations should, in particular, give European enterprises access to government procurement and research programmes in third countries;
  • be accompanied by social policies in the EU and worldwide. Open markets can lead to job losses in under-performing sectors. The Member States and the EU must therefore take the appropriate support measures, namely by extending the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). In addition, the EU is to pursue its cooperation with developing countries as regards combating poverty, defending human rights, compliance with international labour standards and good governance;
  • contribute to green growth in the EU and worldwide. Trade agreements should provide for the efficient use of natural resources and the protection of the environment.

These objectives can be met by strengthening trade relations between the EU and its strategic partners.

In this context, it is particularly important to:

  • complete the Doha Round of negotiations launched by the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is essential to improve access by developing countries to international trade, particularly in the areas of services and agriculture, but also to improve WTO surveillance capacity and strengthen its dispute settlement system;
  • conclude the negotiation of free trade agreements between the EU and its trade partners, and strengthen relations with its strategic partners, particularly taking into account intellectual property rights and the protection of innovation, public procurement, competition rules and consumer protection;
  • develop a new European investment policy, create a favourable climate for enterprise, facilitate business access to foreign markets, including public procurement, and defend the EU’s rights to fair and secure trade.

Finally, trade policy must take into account the objectives of the EU’s external action. This concerns, in particular, the aims of European development policy through the implementation of specific trade instruments, and the requirements of the European Security Policy, namely regarding trade controls for dual-use items.

Last updated: 21.03.2011
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