The EU will respond with countermeasures to economic blackmail against Member States
The European Commission is proposing a tool to
enable the Union to respond when a third country attempts to blackmail a member
state, to alter EU policies for their own interests, or when EU companies receive
unfair treatment in third markets.
The strategy does not target a particular
country, but it could be used even in case a country like Russia reduces or
suspends natural gas supplies, or in a situation similar to the one currently
faced by Lithuania, whose exports are now stopped at the Chinese border in
retaliation to Vilnius's openness to Taiwan.
This is an anti-coercion tool, the EU vice-president
Valdis Dombrovskis explained. He insisted that the EU continues to support free
global trade, but that third countries do not embrace these values and pressure
member states in exchange for political and economic advantages.
The EU will work directly with the state
concerned, in order to put an end to economic intimidation. If the threat is not
immediately ended, the new tool will enable the EU to act quickly and
efficiently. According to the EC
official, this is a signal to EU members that the Union will push back when
In recent years, the EU and its members have
been targets of economic intimidation, i.e. when a country tries to pressure another country
into changing their policies by restricting, or threatening to restrict, trade
or investment, Valdis Dombrovskis explained.
Since it is a part of the EU's trade policy, it
does not require the vote of member states. According to analysts, this is not
seen with friendly eyes in capitals like Budapest, known for their close ties
with Beijing, which has often been accused of aggressive economic and political
conduct in the European market.
Under this strategy, when a third country acts
aggressively, the Commission may resort to services or investment restrictions, exclusion
from public procurement and access to Union-funded programmes. It may also suspend macro-financial assistance to that state, and
suspend any contribution or guarantee agreement with those entities or
individuals having ties with a third country that uses economic blackmail
against the EU, an EU company or a member state.
The strategy consolidates the set of tools used by the EU to better protect itself
in the global market. Its goal is to discourage states from weaponizing trade
in order to effect changes in EU policies regarding climate change, taxation or
The proposal is to be
discussed and approved by the European Parliament and EU Council. (tr. A.M.