EU Safeguarding Measures

Common Rules for Imports

The general principle products should be freely imported without being subject to any quantitative restrictions (e.g. quotas), unless there are safeguard measures in place. For the purpose of transparency, in 2015 the EU common rules for imports provice

  • common rules for the import of products into the EU from other countries;
  • the procedure for EU investigation before safeguards are applied, and for surveillance of products that may cause injury to EU producers.

The regulation applies to imports of products originating in non-EU countries, except for:

  • textile products subject to specific import rules
  • products originating in certain listed non-EU countries listed in Regulation.

EU countries must inform the European Commission if trends in imports appear to call for surveillance or safeguard measures.

EU investigation procedure

The investigation seeks to determine whether imports of a product are causing (or threatening to cause) serious injur* to the EU producers concerned. An investigation must normally be completed in 9 months but, in certain cases, may be extended to 11 months.

It examines the trend in imports, the conditions in which they take place and whether there is serious injury or threat of serious injury to EU producers resulting from such imports.

It considers the following factors:

  • the volume of imports;
  • the price of imports;
  • the consequent impact on European producers of similar or directly competitive products, as indicated by trends in production, capacity utilisation (i.e. the extent to which productive capacity is being used), stocks, sales, market share, prices, profits, return on capital employed, cash flow and employment.

If the investigation shows that imports have increased so much that they cause (or threaten to cause) serious injury to EU producers, the Commission can impose safeguard measures.

Safeguard and Surveillance Measures

The EU investigation may lead to quantitative restrictions on imports of the product from any non-EU country. Import quotas should not be lower than the average level of imports over the last 3 representative years for which statistics are available.

  • Provisional measures (over a maximum of 200 days) may be imposed in critical circumstances and if a preliminary determination provides clear evidence of harm or impending harm.
  • Definitive measures must not exceed 4 years (including the duration of any provisional measures) — unless extended, to a maximum of 8 years.

Safeguards apply to all imports of the product in question, from all countries.

The investigation may lead to prior or retrospective EU surveillance of a product. Surveillance is a system of automatic import licensing over a period of time. It does not restrict imports either retroactively or in advance. Products under prior surveillance may be put into free circulation, though only upon presentation of an import document endorsed by the competent authority designated by an EU country and valid throughout the EU.

Information and consultation procedure

Before and during the EU investigation procedure, the Commission consults the Safeguard Advisory Committee (representatives of each EU country). The Commission must notify EU countries of any decision it takes on safeguard measures. As a starting point, safeguard measures can be imposed if the EU countries support it by qualified majority. The regulation also provides for other specific voting circumstances

Developing countries

No safeguard measure may be applied to a product originating in a developing country member of the World Trade Organization as long as that country’s share of EU imports of the product concerned does not exceed 3 % and the import share of all developing countries does not account for more than 9 %.

This article contains European Union public sector information which is reproduced pursuant to Commission Decision of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documents (2011/833/EU)

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