The European Union’s 6 Trade Safeguards

The European Union has made sporadic, albeit sparse, use of safeguards under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since its inception, it has imposed only six safeguard measures, the last one in 2018 (still in force). The case before this one dates back to 2010.What is a safeguard? An emergency measure that a WTO member can implement to protect its domestic industry from sudden and injurious importsThis measure is intended to allow a WTO member to take temporary measures to restrict imports and protect its domestic producers in specific situations.Still the 2018 safeguard measure remains in force with respect to certain steel products, with the application of provisional measures since 2018 and definitive measures since 2019.On the other hand, the surveillance measures that the European Union applied to steel and aluminum products since 2016 and 2018, respectively, expired on May 15, 2020 and were replaced by a new system of ex post surveillance, in accordance with the WTO.Safeguard measures under the GSP («Everything But Arms» -EBA-) that applied bilaterally to Cambodia and Myanmar on Indica rice also expired on January 18, 2022. 


The European Union’s safeguards framework comprises two basic safeguard regulations, one for WTO members and one for non-members. There is also a specific regulation for textile products and another on bilateral safeguards contained in preferential trade agreements. These main rules have not changed for many years. 


The EU Basic Safeguards Regulation, which incorporates the provisions of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, is a 2015 codified version, but the main elements have been in place since the inception of the WTO.Safeguard measures are defined as «emergency» measures with respect to increased imports of certain products where such imports have caused or threaten to cause serious injury to the domestic industry of the importing Member.


Redacción Opportimes