BRUSSELS - The EU is seeking emergency powers that would force companies to quickly divert resources to urgently fix supply chain chokepoints, a draft legislation on Monday said.
The proposal is part of the EU's answer to its bruising experience during the worst of the Covid pandemic, when the United States and China stopped exports of vaccines and other crucial products in favor of serving their own citizens.
The measure, inspired by rules already existing in the United States, would force companies to prioritize the European market in an emergency and is intended as a weapon of retaliation when other countries do the same.
"We hope it will never be used," said Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton at a joint press conference with Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager.
The proposal also addresses pandemic-era frustrations when some EU member states hoarded critical supplies, denying their bloc neighbors without consultation.
The text would limit such restrictions on the movement of goods and people between member states during a sudden crisis.
"The instrument basically implements the principle that in Europe we are strongest together," said German MEP Andreas Schwab who will spearhead the proposal through the European Parliament.
The regulation still has to be negotiated with the European Parliament and the member states, which may resist handing such unprecedented powers to the EU executive in Brussels.
"Member states will be closely involved at all stages of the procedure," Vestager said.