Benefits of EU international trade agreements

25-10-2017

Trade is the EU's most important link to the world beyond its borders. In force since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the transition to a common EU trade policy was completed in 1968. It is the EU's oldest instrument influencing the bloc's foreign relations. Today, Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the common trade policy as an exclusive EU competence. Following the procedure under that legal basis the EU negotiates, concludes and implements trade agreements. Currently, the EU is negotiating and up-dating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 19 countries and 2 sub-regional blocs, namely the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Southern Common Market of South American countries (Mercado Común de Sur: Mercosur). Within the EU's latest trade strategy – the 2015 'Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment strategy', FTAs are considered instruments that contribute to the EU's objective of generating jobs and growth. About 31 million jobs in Europe depend, directly or indirectly, on the EU and its Member States' ability to trade. In other words, EU external trade concerns almost one in every seven jobs in Europe. In France, for example, over 2.2 million jobs rely on French exports outside the EU. Around 90 % of future global growth is expected to be generated outside Europe's borders. Figures show that the EU share of world GDP has slowly decreased in recent years (see graph below). Against this background, the EU needs to seize trade opportunities beyond its borders in order to gain higher levels of growth in Europe.

Trade is the EU's most important link to the world beyond its borders. In force since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the transition to a common EU trade policy was completed in 1968. It is the EU's oldest instrument influencing the bloc's foreign relations. Today, Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the common trade policy as an exclusive EU competence. Following the procedure under that legal basis the EU negotiates, concludes and implements trade agreements. Currently, the EU is negotiating and up-dating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 19 countries and 2 sub-regional blocs, namely the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Southern Common Market of South American countries (Mercado Común de Sur: Mercosur). Within the EU's latest trade strategy – the 2015 'Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment strategy', FTAs are considered instruments that contribute to the EU's objective of generating jobs and growth. About 31 million jobs in Europe depend, directly or indirectly, on the EU and its Member States' ability to trade. In other words, EU external trade concerns almost one in every seven jobs in Europe. In France, for example, over 2.2 million jobs rely on French exports outside the EU. Around 90 % of future global growth is expected to be generated outside Europe's borders. Figures show that the EU share of world GDP has slowly decreased in recent years (see graph below). Against this background, the EU needs to seize trade opportunities beyond its borders in order to gain higher levels of growth in Europe.