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Common Commercial Policy

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.

To ensure that the accession of new Member States does not block application of this provision, the Commission has proposed to the Intergovernmental Conference launched in February 2000 that the common commercial policy should be extended to the agreements in question.