On 23 October 2023, the Council of the European Union adopted a regulation known as the Anti-Coercion Instrument (ACI), a new trade instrument which will enable the European Union (EU) and its Member States to respond to so-called ‘economic blackmail’ from foreign countries that seek to influence or coerce the EU or a particular Member State to adopt or to decline a specific policy. The European Parliament had already approved the regulation earlier this month by a margin of 578 votes to 24 and only 19 abstentions.
The ACI breaks new ground in the EU’s arsenal of trade defences in the midst of escalating geopolitical tensions. It is designed to deter perceived economic coercion primarily through diplomacy and, if necessary, with countermeasures in a wide range of fields, including international trade, investment, and funding. It is also aimed to secure ‘reparation’ for the injury caused by a third country’s conduct. The ACI is expected to enter into force before the end of 2023 and will take the form of a regulation binding in its entirety and directly applicable to all Member States.