Sunday, February 18, 2007

EU Attacks Technical Trade Barriers

Source: Brussels targets lingering barriers to trade -

A new proposal from the European Commission is aimed at reducing hidden barriers to intra-European trade of goods. In theory, there are no trade barriers for goods within the EU, but many technical barriers continue to exist.

The latest proposals target varying national standards, technical rules, and safety regulations for manufactured goods. These variances require manufacturers to modify their products for each country’s market. The problem is exacerbated by the 1,800 enforcement agencies across Europe that issue conflicting interpretations of the national standards. While the barriers may be small, compliance costs effectively preclude small- and medium-sized companies from exporting their products. In addition, compliance with these technical trade barriers cost larger manufacturers approximately €150 billion each year.

To reduce these barriers, the EC is proposing two areas of reform. First, each country would be required to justify its standards. Second, each country would establish a single agency for enforcing the standards.


Should individual countries and local agencies forfeit their right to control product quality and safety within their jurisdictions? Should Europe move for more drastic changes, such as establishing uniform pan-European technical standards?

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