The EU has agreed an Anti-Coercion Instrument (ACI) to enable it to respond to economic pressure from third countries.

It allows the bloc to implement countermeasures – like import tariffs, trade restrictions, or public procurement measures – against countries that try to coerce EU member states or institutions.

Such countermeasures are an alternative to the slow and unreliable World Trade Organisation (WTO) arbitration process, it claims.

The instrument was proposed in December 2021 after a year of confrontations between the EU and China, which included Beijing sanctioning EU lawmakers and academics for their criticism of Uyghur persecution.

The move can be viewed as the EU moving away from its decade-old liberal free trading policy toward more defensive economic positions.