STRASBOURG, May 150 (Xinhua) -- Members of European Parliament (MEPs) voted Wednesday to back reinforced tools to protect against dumped or subsidized imports amid growing unease of global trade.
The MEPs, gathered in Strasbourg for a plenary session, approved the new tools, which had been informally agreed upon in December 2017 following four years of legislative negotiations between the European Parliament and the European Council, allowing for higher tariffs to be imposed on potentially unfair trade practices by non-EU countries.
The new measures include the higher tariffs on dumped or subsidized 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.
The new rules also include shorter and more transparent investigations, helpdesk for SMEs, trade unions, and social and environmental dumping to be taken into account.
MEPs made sure that core international labour and environmental standards have to be met in the exporter country before common undertakings can be agreed upon with non-EU businesses.
The EU is currently updating its 1995 trade defense law to counter unfair trade practices and reflect the changing needs of European firms, workers and consumers.
"This long-overdue modernization future-proofs our trade defense system," said Bernd Lange, the Chairman of the European Parliament's International Trade Committee.
"We are giving our industries the right tools to protect jobs in Europe and ensure that trade takes place on a fair basis," he added.
"This is the largest reform of the EU's trade defense instruments for 23 years. We can now make sure our instruments are adapted to the modern, 21st century trading system," said Christofer Fjellner, the Parliament's rapporteur on the new rules.
"The EU should stand for free and rules-based trade and this is an important tool to ensure we can remain an open economy," he said.
The new tools were adopted among a general tightening of trade protections in a climate of growing tension around global trade and investment.
On Monday evening, the European Parliament's International Trade Committee backed new rules to screen Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), paving the way for the measures to be presented to the full plenary, after which negotiations with the European Council for the development of new legislation will happen.
The trade defense measures came in the context of increased trade tensions with the United States, with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom telling the Parliament on Tuesday that she expected Washington to apply import caps even if it chooses not to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum by the date of the 28-member bloc's temporary waiver expires on June 1.
Having been approved by European Parliament, the law on trade defense tools will go into effect once it has been published by the EU Official Journal, expected in the first half of June 2018.