The central pillar of rules-based and open trade should always be the WTO. This is the first and best way to open up markets around the world and establish new trade rules. However, free trade agreements (FTAs) can – and have been for years – usefully complement the multilateral trade order. Given that the WTO is in crisis, these agreements continue to increase their economic and political relevance, which is essential for the EU`s external trade policy. The European Council recognised that after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU, Northern Ireland would automatically join the EU as part of Ireland`s accession if it were integrated into the Republic of Ireland to form a united Ireland. This is in line with the integration of the GDR into the Federal Republic of Germany as a single Member State of the European Communities.   It has also been proposed that an independent Scotland could automatically rejoin the EU by forming a union with the Republic of Ireland.  Brussels indicates that China has never gone so far in opening up its markets. In the sectors covered by the agreement, the activity of European companies is becoming safer, as the Chinese giant can no longer prohibit market access or introduce new discriminatory practices. For the first time, the Middle Kingdom agreed on ambitious provisions on sustainable development, made commitments on forced labour and recognized the ratification of the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO). In March 2007, negotiations began on a new and expanded agreement to replace the EU-Ukraine Partnership and Cooperation Agreement concluded under the EU-Ukraine Action Plan. The regions of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte and Réunion are overseas departments of France and monodepartmental overseas regions. Under the EC Treaty (Article 299(2)), all these departments are outermost regions (MROs) of the EU – which is why the provisions of the EC Treaty apply to them, while derogations are allowed.
The status of the overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin is also defined by the Treaty of Lisbon as an OMR. New Caledonia and the overseas communes of French Polynesia, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna are overseas countries and territories of the EU.  At the EU-Ukraine Summit in Paris in September 2008, the parties agreed that the new enlarged agreement would be qualified as an association agreement. In line with ECJ directives, the EU is now developing free trade agreements to ensure that they remain the exclusive competence of the EU. Therefore, areas such as investor-state dispute settlement and portfolio investments need to be negotiated in separate agreements. This clear division of areas into different agreements makes it possible to ratify and enforce free trade agreements quickly and reliably by European legislators. Such a separation is not possible, however, if trade agreements are an integral part of political association agreements (e.g. B with Ukraine, Mexico, Mercosur, etc.). These contracts remain mixed, if only because of the components of foreign and security policy (the EU-Mercosur negotiations are based on a 20-year-old mandate and do not involve investor-state dispute settlement).
The EU`s modern free trade agreements intend to do more than reduce tariffs. They also aim to improve market access by removing non-tariff barriers (e.g. .B through regulatory cooperation), liberalise trade in services and open markets for public procurement. .