EU to grant itself sweeping new trade powers TODAY in bid to become global superpower – Daily Express

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The European Commission will propose today a new trade defence measure designed to combat non-European Union countries wielding undue pressure on any of the bloc’s members, but the plan already faces scepticism within Brussels.
The new measure could for example be deployed in the form of trade or investment restrictions on China over the pressure it is exerting on Lithuania after it allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy there, according to diplomats familiar with the proposal.
China downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania and officials in Vilnius say Beijing has also imposed blocks on its exports and pressured companies in third countries not to do business with the small Baltic state.
Greens MEP Reinhard Buetikofer said: “If any proof was needed that the EU needs an effective instrument to protect itself against economic coercion by third countries, China’s blackmailing pressure on Lithuania has now provided it.”
China denies any wrongdoing.

Mr Buetikofer, himself subject to Chinese sanctions, said that for the Commission proposal to be effective it must not allow just one EU country to block action, pointing to Hungary’s closer ties with Beijing and previous use of a veto.
The proposal, which will need to be approved by both the European Parliament and the grouping of EU countries called the Council, has already sparked concerns among some member states.
An EU diplomat said: “We can expect intensive discussions.”
France, which will hold the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2022, supports the measure, but more free market-oriented states, such as Sweden and the Czech Republic, regard it as potentially protectionist and liable to draw the EU into tit-for-tat trade wars.
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Sweden and the Czech Republic voiced their fears in a paper, warning the Commission that “any prospective autonomous EU tool needs to avoid any doubt about its full compliance with public international law.”
They added that the “extensive foreign policy impacts,” and asked for capitals to be “fully engaged in the decision-making.”
Economic coercion should be very clearly defined, they say, and measures should only be taken if this violates international law and only if it is in the EU’s interest to act.
Some EU member states say they will need to have a say in any deployment of such measures, rather than leave decisions to the Commission, the EU executive.
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For sanctions used in foreign policy, governments have a veto power.
Another EU diplomat said: “We need to be very attentive on how broad the measure is.”
One EU official told Politico that “the idea that the EU can take measures alone against certain countries is a conversation from a previous era”.
MEP Christophe Hansen, the EPP’s international trade spokesman, also warned: “We do not want this instrument to open a global trade arms race and strengthen protectionist tendencies.
“It must be a deterrent before all, and remain fully aligned with WTO rules.”
Once it becomes law, the proposal would add to an armoury of EU measures that include screening of foreign investment, limits on firms benefiting from foreign subsidies and curbs on public procurement for businesses of countries that do not open up their markets.
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