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Johan Adriaensen

What role does the Council of the European Union fulfil in EU trade policy? In this chapter, I argue that the Council fulfils both a legislative as well as an executive function. Starting from the legal foundations, three different instruments of EU trade policy are distinguished, each with their own decision-making procedures and each with a different role for the Council. Supplanting such a legal framework with an administrative perspective provides the reader with the type of practical knowledge that facilitates a better understanding of the existing literature but also clarifies the aptness of a focus on both the Council’s legislative and executive roles. A third layer adds a political perspective by overviewing the academic literature. This perspective highlights the Council’s role (1) as a legislative body, seeking to control the European Commission (particularly in external negotiations), (2) as a defender of national competencies before the court of justice, and (3) as an executive body whose decision-making process is less characterized by political conflict and bargaining and more by collective problem-solving, coordination and cooperation. The chapter ends with a prospective outlook and lays down three directions for future research on the Council in the domain of trade policy.

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Sangeeta Khorana and W. Gregory Voss

This chapter focuses on the importance of the impact of e-commerce and digital technologies in the transition from the European single market into a Digital Single Market (DSM). Highlighted is the opportunity that this change may present to enable the growth of the European Union’s international trade by capitalising on the potential of electronic transactions to enhance trust within the European digital framework. Key issues of data protection and data localization – the former leading to trust, while the latter causes fragmentation – and the importance of data security for trust and the interoperability of data flows under the DSM are analysed.

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Nicholas Perdikis and Laurie Perdikis

The chapter begins with a brief historical overview of the principal catalysts, both economic and political for European economic integration, before moving on to discuss the theoretical foundations of economic integration and the economic and trade implications of the Treaty of Rome. The chapter then proceeds to outline the development of the EU’s trade policy and how this was affected by its deepening and widening, as well as the impact international factors had on that process. The principal areas of EU trade policy are also covered – in particular its multilateral aspects, its bilateral and plurilateral arrangements and its unilateral policy covering the Generalised Scheme of Preferences or GSP. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the future direction and re-calibration of the EU’s trade policy towards relationships with Far Eastern economies via its ‘Trade for All’ policy document.

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Tony Heron and Peg Murray-Evans

In the twenty-first century, relations between the EU and Africa have been defined by intense diplomatic activity. In this chapter, we survey the focal point of this activity – the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) – and highlight an unresolved tension between the economic dimension (reciprocity in matters of trade and investment) and the political dimension (institution building and the promotion of regional integration) of this process. We provide a background to contemporary EU-Africa trade relations before looking at the interregional dimension more specifically. We note the diverse array of different functional logics that have historically defined African regionalism, both prior to and in parallel with the EPAs. Accordingly, the influence of the EPA negotiations on these (partially if not wholly independent) processes of integration has been highly uneven and contradictory. We conclude by considering these effects with respect to each African ‘region’ and the longer-term implications for African governance and development.

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Leïla Choukroune

The EU trade dispute resolution strategy is currently reshaped by new initiatives, from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada to the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EUVFTA), in which the need for human rights-related provisions integration and clarification, including for dispute settlement, have partially been taken into account. It is in the dispute settlement domain that sovereign States’ interests are challenged, while emerging trade giants like China or India, and a number of Asian developing countries, are deploying all their heterodox economic strategy. In this general context, this chapter questions the concepts of the peaceful multilateral settlement of disputes in reference to a number of key disputes between the EU and Developing Asia. It concludes in qualifying developing Asia’s activism as a form of assertive legalism for political autonomy and proposes a new strategy for the EU to address developing-Asia-related trade disputes.

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Clair Gammage

As the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, the EU’s common commercial policy (CCP) constituted in Article 207 TFEU has been extended and clarified. Over time, the EU’s exclusive competence to conclude international agreements, which was formerly limited solely to trade in goods, has been expanded to encompass trade in services, foreign direct investment, and commercial aspects of intellectual property. Furthermore, there is an obligation on the EU to liberalise trade in a manner consistent with the ‘universal’ values that inspired its own creation, such as human rights and democracy, in accordance with Article 21 TEU. The requirement to export such values through its trade agreements brings within the scope of the CCP broader objectives not typically associated with economic liberalisation. Through an examination of the evolving Treaty frameworks and the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), this chapter examines the evolutive nature of the EU’s external competence to conclude international agreements and argues that the CCP has become an increasingly powerful foreign policy tool, especially in the negotiation of EU free trade agreements. Finally, this chapter argues from a legal perspective that the external trade policy of the EU is being used to promote ‘universal’ values, sometimes with unintended consequences.

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Nicholas Ross Smith

The EU has often been positioned as a potential economic superpower; an entity which uses its sizeable economy to pursue a powerful and coherent foreign policy. This chapter examines the EU’s trade policies towards Ukraine and Russia, with a strong focus on the Ukraine crisis, to assess whether it fits the bill as an emerging economic superpower. After a substantial examination of the EU-Russia-Ukraine trade triangle, before and after the crisis, two interrelated questions are raised. Firstly, to what extent did the EU’s trade policies contribute to the Ukraine crisis and, secondly, what lessons can the EU learn from the crisis? Ultimately, this chapter contends that the EU does have significant trade power which can be used to pursue foreign policy goals, but serious questions remain as to its effectiveness and coherency, which raises long-term questions about the EU’s potential to emerge as an economic superpower.

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Matthew Eagleton-Pierce

This chapter explores the ties between EU trade policymaking and civil society. Within the politics of commercial exchange, our understanding of the relations between the EU institutions and trade-facing, civil society groups can help to inform larger questions of participation, agenda-setting, and material outcomes. Since the 1990s, the EU has faced reoccurring problems of legitimacy within this policy domain. In terms of input dimensions of legitimacy, many civil society actors have criticised the institutional mechanisms through which their voice on trade policy can be expressed and registered. In respect to output legitimacy concerns, critics have argued that aspects of EU trade policy contribute to uneven and, at times, unjust distributional consequences. This chapter seeks to clarify this complexity in different ways, including through attention to definitional problems, particular policy legacies and forms of access, and more recent struggles over the EU’s engagement with civil society. A spotlight on Oxfam is included.

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María García

Through trade policy the EU is a major international actor. It simultaneously seeks to extend economic liberalisation and EU preferences, including values, by leveraging its trade policy for foreign policy goals. This results in intense internal tensions in trade policy, which have been heightened by the politicisation of trade policy during the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. This chapter focuses on the evolution of these interactions. Firstly, it introduces major institutional actors involved in trade policy and their respective powers over time. It explores various explanations of the outcomes of EU trade policy in the literature informed by their respective focus on institutions, the actors and ideas underlying trade policy, and the interplay amongst these. Finally, the chapter presents pressing challenges to both the practice and study of EU trade policy in the form of novel power constellations and increased activism around trade policy that are reshaping EU trade policy.

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Lars Nilsson

This chapter presents the objectives and scope of EU trade policy, including how EU trade policy is made, implemented and enforced. As such, it includes a review of how EU trade policy proposals are prepared, how interested parties are consulted and how decisions are taken. The chapter also includes a description of how free trade negotiations are conducted; starting from the process leading up to negotiating directives to the conclusion of negotiations and subsequent signature and ratification. It further explains the EU approach to dispute settlement and how the European Commission monitors and reports on trade barriers and protectionism. Finally, the chapter explains the purpose and content of the various assessments the Commission carries out in terms of the economic, social and environmental impact of significant new EU trade policy proposals. The chapter concludes with suggestions of areas in which future research on the effects of EU free trade agreements could be further strengthened.