The EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, manages trade with the outside world on behalf of member nations. It’s seeking their permission to react without needing the endorsement of all 27 when any person, company or country tries to strong-arm the bloc. It could face pushback from some EU countries against giving the commission too much power. The commission says it might be possible to use such a system in China’s spat with Lithuania, whose ties with Taiwan have prompted Beijing to downgrade diplomatic relations with the EU member. Lithuania says its trade shipments are no longer being cleared through Chinese customs.
China and Taiwan split during a civil war in 1949, and Beijing threatens to use force to bring the island under its control.