The world is increasingly interconnected because of globalisation. Read how the EU and Parliament are making the most of the opportunities that offers.
EU trade policy
Having an EU trade policy gives EU countries more power in bilateral negotiations and in multinational bodies such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
EU trade policy relies on three types of tool:
- Trade agreements with non EU-counties to open new markets and increase trade opportunities for EU companies
- Trade regulation to protect EU producers from unfair competition (e.g. anti-dumping rules)
- EU membership of the WTO, which sets international trade rules. EU countries are members, but the European Commission negotiates on their behalf.
The European Parliament decides on trade and investment with the Council, which represents the member states. The Parliament has to vote in favour of international trade agreements before they can enter into force. It can influence negotiations by adopting resolutions.
Read more about the EU’s trade policy
The benefits of globalisation in the EU
The EU is one of the largest players in international trade, next to the US and China, with EU exports representing more than 15% of global exports.
More than 36 million jobs in the EU depend on exports beyond its borders. On average, every €1 billion exports to non-EU countries supports more than 13,000 EU jobs.
International trade means more competition, which benefits consumers in terms of lower prices and more choice. The benefits to EU consumers amount to about €600 a year per person.
Managing the negative impact on employment
Globalisation also creates challenges in terms of employment such as job losses and relocation.
In the EU, the most fragile sectors are textiles, clothing, footwear and leather, basic metals and fabricated metal products and manufacturing industries, which mostly offer low-skilled jobs.
To reduce this negative impact of globalisation, the EU created the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in 2006. The purpose of this emergency fund is to help workers who have lost jobs because of globalisation.
It co-finances up to 60% of labour policies to re-employ workers or create businesses. Funded projects include education and training, careers advice, as well as help looking for a job, mentoring and business creation.
Read more about the EU and the globalisation’s impact on employment
Protecting human rights via trade
The EU has two trade policy tools to promote human rights: preferential trade deals and unilateral trade restrictions.
The EU has taken steps to ban the import of conflict-related minerals as well as the export of goods and services that may contribute to torture or execution and the export of dual-use items that can be used to violate human rights, such as spyware.
In 2017, Parliament proposed EU rules obliging textile and clothing suppliers to respect workers’ rights. In 2016, it called in a resolution for ways to trace evidence of forced and child labour, giving trade preferences to countries that meet certain labour standards and prohibiting the import of products made by child labour.
Read more about EU trade policy and human rights