The Community has exclusive responsibility for the common commercial policy (Article 133 of the EC Treaty, formerly Article 113). Under the policy a customs union has been established between the Member States of the Community, with uniform principles governing changes in tariff rates, the conclusion of tariff and trade agreements with non-member countries, import and export policy, etc. Decisions are taken by qualified majority in the Council.
The Treaty of Amsterdam amended Article 113 to allow the Council, acting by unanimous vote, to extend the scope of the common commercial policy to international negotiations and agreements on services and intellectual property. The Treaty of Nice also amended Article 113 to allow such agreements to be concluded by qualified majority voting. There are, however, exceptions concerning agreements in sectors for which responsibility is shared between the Member States and the Community, which remain subject to unanimity. Such exceptions include trade in cultural and audiovisual services and trade in education services.
Source: Treaties Office Database« Back to Glossary Index