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On November 16, 2020, the European Commission (“EC”) debuted their new complaints system for stakeholders to report harmful trade barriers and violations to European Union (“EU”) trade agreements. The “Single Entry Point” complaints system allows member states, companies, trade associations, civil society groups and EU citizens to report any market access barriers and non-compliance of Trade and Sustainable Development (“TSD”) commitments which are part of EU trade agreements or under the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (“GSP”). Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis said that the EC “has made enforcement a top priority” and that, notably, under the new system, complaints related to “sustainable development commitments” will receive the same level of attention as complaints related to market access barriers.

As outlined in the published operating guidelines, received complaints will be prioritized based on three criteria:

  1. The likelihood of success for resolving the issue;
  2. The legal basis for the complaint;
  3. The seriousness or degree of economic/systemic impact of the alleged market access barriers or violations of TSD/GSP commitments.

The new system has two separate complaint forms, one for market access barriers and another for non-compliance with TSD/GSP commitments. Both of the forms require that the complainant provide the legal basis and a full description of the issue being reported. Additionally, if the commission finds that enforcement action is necessary, they will inform the complainant and issue an enforcement action plan tailored to the specific violation or trade barrier.

Should you or your company have any questions or concerns regarding the EC’s newly released complaint system, please contact our International Trade and Supply Chain team.