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Abstract

The EU adopted Regulation 2019/452 (Regulation) as part of a more robust Common commercial policy to strengthen and defend its interests in a shifting global order. More concretely, the Regulation has two objectives: protecting domestic assets from harmful foreign investor interests, and equipping the EU with leverage to achieve more favourable treatment of EU investors abroad. Therefore, the Regulation provides Member States with an option to adopt foreign direct investment (FDI) screening mechanisms on the grounds of "security or public order". However, the Regulation misses its objectives. The Regulation's vague screening ground "security or public order" must be interpreted in accordance with WTO law. A detailed analysis finds that the relevant WTO notions of essential security interests and public order are rather narrow. The Regulation's screening ground "security or public order" therefore only allows the screening of a few, high-profile cases of FDI. Such a narrow scope undermines the Regulation's objectives.

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