France asks for surveillance measures on Korean car imports
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Thursday 26 July 2012
The French government formally requested, on 26 July, that the European Commission apply its surveillance mechanism to the 2010 EU-South Korea free trade agreement (FTA) as provided under the terms of the trade deal.
The request follows plans unveiled by French authorities to boost their struggling auto industry, after national car maker Peugeot SA announced it had to cut 8,000 jobs – or 8% of its workforce. On 25 July, Peugeot – France’s leading car manufacturer – said it had suffered a first-half net loss of €819 million. “The European Commission must implement surveillance measures when there is unbalanced trade for a possible activation of safeguard clauses,” French Productive Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg said, on 25 July.
The prior surveillance measures demanded by Paris are a first step towards the possible application of safeguard measures against the imports of South Korean cars into Europe. But this being the first-ever request for the EU executive to tighten is surveillance measures – further than its regular monitoring of the overall application of the FTA – the Commission appears rather lost in terms of what the next steps should be, despite the presence of a French delegation there to present the plan to EU diplomats since 25 July.
When asked what the institution’s next move would be, the Commission told
Europoliticsthat once it receives the French request, it would then have to consult with member states, but was unable to describe the procedure further, particularly if it would need the Council’s approval before giving the go-ahead to the surveillance measures, or how long the approval procedure would take. According to one French diplomat, the Commission will decide on the application of surveillance measures under the bloc’s comitology process.