In a particularly uncertain and aggressive international context, the European Commission has proposed to the Twenty-Seven to equip the Union with new coercive tools to be used to tackle the economic blackmail of third countries. The gaze runs to the unscrupulous use that Russia and China make of their economic power to obtain particular political benefits from the individual member countries. The new instrument, explains Brussels, must be considered a last resort.
“In a time of growing geopolitical tensions, the European Union and its member states are increasingly the target of economic intimidation – explained the vice-president of the European Commission Valdis Dombrovskis at a press conference here in Brussels on Wednesday 8 December -. With this proposal we want to be clear that the European Union will be firm in defending its interests. The main objective of the new anti-coercion instrument is to act as a deterrent ”.
The measures of “retaliation” only in the event of a flop of negotiations
According to the Community proposal, there is economic coercion when “a third country tries to put pressure on the Union or on a Member State to make a certain choice by applying or threatening to apply measures affecting trade or investment”. In a first phase, the European Commission will be called upon to open negotiations. Retaliatory measures would only be used in the event of a failed negotiation. There has been no shortage of examples of economic intimidation in the recent past.
China is currently blocking Lithuanian imports after Vilnius, against Beijing’s wishes, has forged new ties with the island of Taiwan. China has also recently put economic pressure on Spain to change its code of criminal procedure. In these days, there is fear in Berlin that Russia could block gas exports to Western Europe due to the crisis in Ukraine.
The measures proposed by the Commission include various restrictions on access to the European Union market, through public procurement, raising capital, authorizing products according to chemical and health standards, as well as blocking access to research programs funded by the Union.