It is hard to overstate the importance of trade policy for Europe. The EU28 is the
largest trading bloc, the top trading partner for about 80 countries worldwide and
ranks 1 for in- and outbound investment.
EU agreements to foster trade (and investment), however, have sparked mixed
feelings more recently given the backlash against globalisation as well as EU-
internal controversies over the power to strike such deals. Nonetheless, free
trade agreements (FTAs) are going to remain important for the years to come.
Their key advantage is flexibility. The question of a post-Brexit arrangement with
the UK is just one case in point.
A wide-ranging network of FTAs support the Union’s trade ties and forms a key
element of its trade strategy. At present, the EU has 44 agreements in place
with more than 60 countries across the globe.
The share of EU trade covered by
FTAs could soon exceed the 40% mark, with new agreements being concluded
or entering into force, e.g. With Singapore, Vietnam, Canada or Japan.