Common trade policy

As an essential external complement to the internal market upon which the project of the founding fathers was based, the common trade policy of the European Union has been following the same gradual integration process since the signing of the Treaty of Rome.

The Lisbon Treaty enshrined the transfer by the Member States of new competences to the European level, as well as the reinforcement of the democratic legitimacy of the European Parliament in its capacity to monitor the implementation of the common trade policy. Furthermore, since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, trade policy forms an integral part of the detailed provisions setting out the various strands of the EU external action. These institutional developments are important milestones for the way in which trade policy must find the balance between its contribution to economic growth and employment within the European Union, as well as to the promotion of fair trade, based on the values at the heart of the integration project launched in 1957.

Within the European Union, these values necessarily include the adoption of all possible measures that ensure maximum transparency in relation to the work implemented by the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament on behalf of citizens. With regards to the outside world , the ultimate objective of the common trade policy remains to reach multilateral agreements that are best suited to generate rules allowing mutually beneficial commercial transactions and guaranteeing fair competition.

In support of these multilateral efforts, the European Union will also continue to negotiate plurilateral and bilateral agreements so as to pave the way for an inclusive approach as pursued by the World Trade Organisation, an institution in the creation of which the European Union and its Member States have been playing a key role.

For more information: