The Council and European Parliament recently agreed on new procedural rules for the adoption of trade defence measures (i.e. anti-dumping, antisubsidy, and safeguard measures) by the European Commission. The new rules increase the Commission’s powers in the area of trade defence at the expense of Member States, which may make the process more technical/technocratic and less political in nature. In future, it would require a qualified majority of EU Member States – rather than a simple majority – to block trade defence measures. The new procedures are expected to be published soon, and will enter into force thirty days following theirpublication in the EU Official Journal. The new rules will not apply to ongoing investigations where a decision has already been made or EU Member States have been consulted on a Commission proposal.
The purpose of the amendments is to bring existing EU legislation in the field of trade defence in step with the new “comitology” procedures (which were introduced post-Lisbon treaty) on adoption of implementing acts (Regulation 182/2011).2 In other words, the amendments will establish how new trade defence procedures already outlined in Regulation 182/2011 are to be implemented. So far, the mechanisms for adoption of trade defence measures were excluded from the scope of the general comitology rules (outlining EU decision-making procedures involving specialized committees with national experts from the Member States), as they have been subject to unique procedural rules spelled out in each trade defence instrument to reflect the special nature of trade policy. As a result of Regulation 182/2011, procedures for trade defence measures were supposed to be brought in line with general comitology procedures; however, the “old” special trade defence procedures continued to apply until these, recently agreed, amendments to trade defence regulations enter into force.
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