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Fostering Europe’s Strategic Autonomy - A new Agenda for Trade and Investment

Johan Bjerkem

Date: 02/07/2020
The EU should make active use of its trade and investment policies in its pursuit to act more strategically and autonomously on the global stage. That means bracing for possible trade shocks and unfair trade practices, leveraging the Single Market, and engaging internationally to uphold rules-based trade and a stable international order.

This paper, the first in a series on Europe's strategic autonomy the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the European Policy Centre will publish together, argues that the EU should begin by strengthening and modernising its trade defence instruments. At the same time, it must ensure the viability of the temporary appeal arrangement set up to cope with the blockage of the WTO Appellate Body.

Second, the EU should ensure a level playing field for all companies within the Single Market, ensure reciprocity in market access, screen FDIs more strategically at the EU level, and better enforce its free trade agreements – including its standards on sustainability.

Finally, the EU should continue to engage internationally, modernise its networks of FTAs, and re-centre its trade policy around fewer top priorities.

Fostering strategic autonomy is essential to advancing Europe’s interests and reinforcing European sovereignty. Trade and investment policies are only one of the several tools that should be mobilised at the EU level to face competition and promote cooperation in a post-COVID world.

Ultimately, Europe’s strategic autonomy agenda calls for a much broader approach, including industrial policies, technology and innovation, and security and defence. These are the main building blocks of a sovereign Europe – one that can shape its own future.

This paper is part of the joint EPC-KAS project on “Fostering Europe’s strategic autonomy: priorities for action” that runs throughout 2020 and aims to outline a concrete agenda to strengthen Europe’s role in the world and its sovereignty.

Read the full paper here

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