Common commercial policy
The common commercial policy is one of the main pillars of the European Union's relations with the rest of the world (Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU). It is an integral area of exclusive Union competence (Article 3 of the TFEU). It is the counterpart to the creation of a customs union between the Member States.
The common commercial policy implies uniform conduct of trade relations with third countries, in particular by means of a common customs tariff and common import and export regimes. The Treaty of Lisbon also widens the common commercial policy to include direct foreign investments.
The Union supports the abolition of trade and customs barriers. To defend the European market, it has at its disposal tools such as anti-dumping and anti-subsidy measures, the Trade Barriers Regulation and safeguard measures.
The Commission negotiates international agreements on behalf of the Union at the bilateral and multilateral levels. The Council concludes agreements by a qualified majority after obtaining consent from the European Parliament, who is kept informed of the progress of negotiations. However, the Council acts unanimously regarding agreements on the trade in services, intellectual property, direct foreign investments, audiovisual and cultural services, and social, educational and health services.
The Commission plays an active part in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
The European Union supports harmonious, liberalised trade serving the interests of all the international players. In particular, it supports the inclusion of developing countries in world trade through the aid trade it provides to these countries.