An increasingly important aspect of EU trade policy since the lifting of its self-imposed moratorium on preferential trade agreements (PTAs) has been the inclusion of WTO+ provisions on subsidies in bilateral agreements negotiated with a number of third countries. This article covers the main bilateral PTAs negotiated after the publication of the Commission's Communication on 'Global Europe' in order to explore the implications of the different subsidy disciplines they set out. It also discusses the questions that arise when examining the legal discipline of public aid provided by such agreements, regarding not only the substantive appropriateness of standards and rules on compatibility, but also the procedural mechanisms designed to guarantee the implementation and the enforcement of such rules. It concludes that the most advanced among the EU PTAs are shaped as competition regulation and go beyond a mere negative function, ensuring that subsidies can contribute to fundamental public goals.
Assistant Professor of EU law, University Bocconi, Italy