A European Union flag flutters in Brussels, Belgium. February 1, 2023

Publication Type

Trade policy, industrial policy, and the economic security of the European Union

Working Papers 24-2
Photo Credit: REUTERS/Yves Herman


Out of fear about its economic security, the European Union is transitioning to a new form of international economic and policy engagement. This paper explores some of the major trade issues surrounding the bloc’s economic security, the role of trade and industrial policies in achieving its objectives, and some of the economic costs of doing so. It begins by explaining why economic security is suddenly playing such a prominent role and providing early evidence to motivate these government interventions. It then turns to a case study—new policies associated with China’s exports of electric vehicles and graphite—that highlights the difficult choices and practical challenges the European Union faces in tailoring policy to address concerns over economic security. The paper then introduces the domestic policy instruments that the European Union, its member states, and other governments are pursuing to address economic security, including stockpiling and inventory management, investment or production subsidies, tariffs, export controls, and regulations on foreign investment, as well as the scope for selective international cooperation over such policy instruments. The paper concludes with some caveats about abandoning interdependence and lessons from history.

Data Disclosure:

The data underlying this analysis can be downloaded here [zip].

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