Tougher defence tools against unfair imports, MEPs strike deal with ministers 


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  • Higher tariffs against dumped or subsidised imports
  • Shorter and more transparent investigations, helpdesk for SMEs, trade unions involved
  • Social and environmental dumping to be taken into account
Higher tariffs could now be imposed to protect EU businesses against unfairly cheap imports. ©: Image by 1588877, CC0 - Pixabay  

The EU could protect itself better against unfairly cheap imports and combat environmental or social dumping more effectively, under a draft law agreed on Tuesday.

Higher tariffs can be imposed on dumped or subsidised imports to better protect EU jobs and businesses, under an informal agreement struck by Parliament’s negotiating team and EU ministers in Brussels on Tuesday evening.


The agreed measures target unfair trade practices from non-EU countries and complement the recently approved anti-dumping rules focusing on third countries that interfere heavily in the economy.


In negotiations, MEPs ensured that:


  • the EU is able to set higher tariffs on dumped imports (see tools in Quick Facts);
  • investigations into anti-dumping cases would be significantly shorter;
  • costs for EU industry resulting from international and environmental agreements would be reflected in the calculation of the duties;
  • an SMEs help-desk would deal with complaints and investigative proceedings; trade unions would be involved in investigations and assess the future duties;
  • all products arriving into the EU between an investigation being notified and its actual start would be strictly monitored and registered to avoid stockpiling;
  • continental shelves and economic exclusive zones (sea zones, mainly used for energy production) would be covered by the regulation to close loopholes.




International Trade Committee Chair, Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) said: “It is high time that we found an agreement on this dossier. As parliament, we have achieved a lot. With the understanding on the continental shelf, we will close an important loophole in our legislation. We have streamlined our TDI system and in the future will actively pay attention to social and environmental standards when deciding on dumping duties."


Parliament’s rapporteur Christofer Fjellner (EPP, SE) said: “After four years of negotiations, we have finally reached an agreement. Trade defence instruments are probably the most controversial part of trade policy. Together with the new anti-dumping methodology, we have modernised our trade defence so it is more effective, more transparent and puts SMEs on an equal footing with larger companies in investigations."


Next steps


The deal needs to be approved by the Parliament’s International Trade Committee and the full House along with member states, before it can enter into force.


Quick facts


The EU is currently updating its 1995 trade defence law to counter unfair trade practices and reflect the changing needs of European business, workers and consumers.


According to the agreed text, the EU would be able to set higher tariff barriers on dumped imports through a stricter interpretation of the so-called lesser-duty rule, which allows authorities to impose lower tariffs if that is deemed sufficient to remove injury caused by unfair imports. A minimum profit target for European businesses would be included into the calculation of duties. MEPs also made sure that core international labour and environmental standards have to be met in the exporter country before common undertakings (an alternative by which tariffs are paid through amicable offers) can be agreed upon with non-EU businesses.


Parliament adopted its negotiating mandate already in February 2014, but discussions on the Commission’s 2013 proposal were stalled for more than three years in the Council.


Procedure: co-decision, second reading (informal agreement)