2007 OECD Economic Surveys: European Union 2007

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This survey of the European Union economy reviews the EU's economic performance and discusses the main challenges, including pushing ahead with the internal market, opening up network industries to competition, removing barriers to labour mobility, making regional cohesion policy more effective, and enhancing Europe's global role. It focuses on the common and shared policies of the Union. It complements the Euro Area Survey, which deals with monetary and fiscal policy, and the individual country Surveys that assess national policies. While many of the necessary policy changes are firmly under national sovereignty, the EU can play an important role by providing good framework conditions and continuing to enhance the internal market.

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Reforming agricultural and trade support

EU policies will have a decisive influence on developments in world trade. The EU is the world’s leading exporter and second-leading importer of goods, and the biggest trader of commercial services. Along with the other major trading blocs, decisions by the EU will have a major influence on whether the multilateral approach to world trade will continue to dominate or whether trade arrangements splinter into regional and bilateral agreements. Agricultural policies in particular will influence whether the Doha round can be concluded successfully, where success is measured by major cuts in trade-distorting domestic subsidies, the elimination of all forms of export subsidies and better market access worldwide. Concerning other trade issues, EU tariffs on manufactured products are relatively low except for certain processed food products, but its complex web of preferential trade deals makes access more difficult for those left out. In services, there is little discrimination against foreigners – except in the professions – but anything that undercuts the internal market for services also hampers provision from outside the EU.

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