Abstract: Since the 2010s the EU has expanded its preferential trade agreements, responding to challenges at the World Trade Organization and preferential trade agreements of key geoeconomic competitors. However, preferential trade agreements are only as good as their implementation. The EU 2021 Trade Policy Review for a more assertive trade policy includes a greater focus on preferential trade agreement implementation. An analysis of preferential trade agreement implementation reports identifies challenges in operationalising these. It shows that since 2019 there has been an increase in EU recourse to formal dispute settlement mechanisms under preferential trade agreements demonstrating the shift to greater assertiveness. Interestingly, most of the cases are of limited economic significance to the EU but serve to reinforce the message of enforcement of trade rules.
Keywords: agreement enforcement; dispute; European Union; free trade agreements; preferential trade agreements; trade and sustainable development