The EU could impose higher tariffs on unfairly cheap imports from non-EU countries, under new rules adopted by MEPs on Wednesday 30 May. We talked to Christofer Fjellner, the MEP in charge.
The Swedish EPP member is responsible for steering the legislation, which will help the EU combat dumped and subsided imports more effectively, through Parliament. The new law should help to make investigations into anti-dumping cases shorter, while a helpdesk for SMEs will also be set up. We asked Fjellner to tell us more about the new legislation.
Globally there has been a trend towards more trade protection recently. What difference will the new rules make?
One of my personal objectives was that while we update our trade defence instruments, we don’t make them protectionist. And I think we have succeeded in that. We have a new, more modern way of addressing unfair trading practices without being protectionist.
In the negotiations with the Council, Parliament managed to secure a helpdesk for SMEs. Why is it needed and what will it do?
It will help small and medium companies file complaints against unfair trading practices. Today we see that big companies, mostly multinationals, mainly use anti-dumping rules to try to stop competition from dumped or subsidised goods. No matter how one views these instruments, we in the Parliament think it important that everybody has equal access to them. Therefore, it was important to establish assistance to SMEs to help them understand and use these complicated instruments.
Is it becoming more difficult for the EU to strike the right balance between promoting free trade and protecting its own companies?
The struggle between free trade and protectionism has gone on for centuries in Europe and globally. Right now, globally protectionism seems to have the upper hand, but I think we have reasons to be proud in Europe that we haven’t taken that route. We have been able to stand firm behind rule-based trade and an open trading system. It becomes more difficult when others like the US now don’t play by the rules. I think we have done a good job so far, but the struggle will continue, probably for another couple of centuries.