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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Obstacles to trade: Rapid Intervention Mechanism

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Obstacles to trade: Rapid Intervention Mechanism



Regulation (EC) No 2679/98 on the functioning of the free movement of goods among EU countries


It establishes rules that help to ensure the free movement of goods and prevent physical obstacles to trade (e.g. border blockades, demonstrations/strikes, or attacks on trucks) through enabling the sharing of information on these obstacles between all European Union (EU) countries.


  • This regulation is not intended to be interpreted in any way that restricts fundamental rights in the EU countries (e.g. the right to strike).
  • When a physical obstacle to trade occurs or is threatening to occur, any EU country with relevant information must immediately transfer it to the European Commission. The Commission then immediately transmits that information to all EU countries along with other information it considers relevant.
  • The EU country where the obstacle is taking place must promptly respond to information requests from the Commission and from other EU countries concerning the nature of the obstacle and the action that it has taken or proposes to take. All information exchanged between EU countries must also be transmitted to the Commission.
  • When an obstacle occurs, the relevant EU country must take all necessary and proportionate measures so that the free movement of goods is resumed, and then inform the Commission of its actions.
  • When the Commission determines that an obstacle is occurring, it notifies the relevant EU country of the reasons that led it to that conclusion and requests the EU country to take all necessary and proportionate measures to remove the said obstacle. The EU country then has 5 days to inform the Commission of the steps it has taken or plans to take, or to give a reasoned answer as to why measures are not needed.
  • EU countries that do not respond by the deadline given by the Commission can be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union.


It has applied since 1 January 1999.


  • The quick and efficient free movement of goods is a key principle of the EU. When obstacles get in the way of this free movement of goods, it can cause serious economic losses, which is what the Rapid Intervention Mechanism aims to prevent.
  • This regulation is based on Article 268 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and applies to clear, unmistakable and unjustified obstacles to the free movement of goods originating in action or inaction on the part of an EU country.
  • For more information, see:


Council Regulation (EC) No 2679/98 of 7 December 1998 on the functioning of the internal market in relation to the free movement of goods among the Member States (OJ L 337, 12.12.1998, pp. 8-9)

last update 06.12.2016