European Association for Business and Commerce
EU Trade Agreements: Capturing the benefits of open markets


The EU negotiates trade agreements to strengthen our economy and create jobs. 

EU trade agreements help us do that in two ways. They enable European businesses to compete more effectively and export more to countries and regions outside the EU. They also give better access to raw materials and vital components from around the world.

This increase in trade then grows the economy, meaning that more jobs are created. It also gives consumers a wider choice of products at lower prices.

EU trade agreements also require partner governments to protect human rights, labour rights and the environment. For example, partners commit to tackling issues like safety and gender equality in the workplace.

Trade negotiations in a nutshell

With EU trade deals, we aim to tackle things that get in the way of trade with other countries.

Depending on the agreement, partner governments in other parts of the world commit to a series of measures. These might include:

  • removing or cutting customs duties (taxes) on goods that European companies export
  • scrapping any limits (quotas) on the amounts EU firms can export
  • allowing EU businesses to provide services and bid for public contracts
  • cutting red tape which makes it harder for EU firms to export, without cutting corners on things like health and safety standards or environmental protection.

The EU negotiates trade deals either directly with other countries or regions, or through its membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).