Europe's Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has vowed to banish protectionism in Europe as part of sweeping plans to open up world markets for EU business.
"Europe needs to import to export - it cannot argue for openness from others while sheltering behind barriers of its own," he said yesterday.
His comments came after his fellow Commissioners backed plans to open up new markets for the benefit of European business, especially in Asia and - the single biggest challenge - China.
Mr Mandelson's comprehensive trade policy review, Global Europe: competing in the World, acknowledges that getting a competitive foothold for EU markets in lucrative emerging markets also requires a firm European commitment to keep its own markets open.
He said he was setting out a means of putting trade policy at the service of EU competitiveness.
"Economic strength at home is essential to a strong European voice in the world," he said in Brussels.
Yesterday's report emphasises that Europe must function effectively in a global market, with global supply chains.
Among other things, the report also promises action to protect European intellectual property rights, to crack down on counterfeit goods, and to work for better access for European companies to major public procurement and investment markets.
It also pledges the Commission to consider reforming controversial EU policy on anti-dumping, defending European trade by imposing punitive import duties on goods off-loaded on EU markets at rock-bottom prices.
Before yesterday's launch, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) had challenged Mr Mandelson to "face down vested interests that are preventing Europe's consumers from benefiting from global trade". BRC director Alisdair Gray said: "Reforming Europe's defunct trade defence system is long over-due. The current system adds to ever-growing costs for retailers and pushes up prices for customers."
But the campaigning group War on Want claimed that forcing open the markets of developing countries would put millions of jobs at risk.