Trade policy and European strategic autonomy


One year after the publication of the European Commission’s new trade policy strategy, Franck Riester, French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, will hold a High-Level Conference on the Contribution of Trade Policy to Building European Strategic Autonomy on Monday, 7 March 2022, under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

European value chains are currently under a great deal of pressure. First, the COVID crisis has revealed vulnerabilities in our ability to secure our own supplies, seen in shortages and slowdowns in certain value chains. Amid growing global tensions, caused by a resumption of conflictuality between States, and persistent impasses in the functioning of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a number of cases of distortion of competition related to unfair practices of third countries are disrupting the internal market and threatening our companies and our jobs. Lastly, trade is increasingly being instrumentalized by certain third countries as a way to influence the political decisions of the European Union and its Member States.

In response to these challenges, the European Union has begun strengthening European strategic autonomy, including through the review and coordination of its industrial policy and its trade policy over the past two years.

"Open strategic economy (…) further signifies that the EU continues to reap the benefits of international opportunities, while assertively defending its interests, protecting the EU’s economy from unfair trade practices and ensuring a level playing field. Finally, it implies supporting domestic policies to strengthen the EU’s economy and to help position it as a global leader in pursuit of a reformed rules-based system of global trade governance." European Commission, Trade Policy Review, 18 February 2021]

At the Conference of 7 March 2022, the role of trade policy in building European strategic autonomy will be discussed. Meeting in roundtables, participants will take stock of the vulnerabilities of European value chains and action implemented to strengthen their resilience. Discussions will then focus on the role of the multilateral trading system in creating the conditions for rules-based trade and possibilities for reform of the WTO. The event will also highlight EU tools that are currently being used and negotiated, to tackle unfair or abusive trade practices, such as the new instrument against distortions caused by foreign subsidies in the European Single Market. Lastly, amid growing politicization of trade relations, discussions will return to the necessary strategy and leverage to protect EU sovereignty and to defend European companies from economic coercion by third countries.

This event, which is being held under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, will bring together political leaders, representatives of international and European organizations, business leaders and civil society in Paris. The Conference will be opened by Franck Riester, French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, and Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission.

Key figures :
The number of products in sensitive ecosystems for which the European Union is very dependent on foreign countries.

38 millions
The number of European jobs dependent on European exports

More information