Valeria Fargion and Stefania Profeti
The chapter discusses the EU’s external action in the social domain by considering two policy areas that have been largely neglected by academic research: development cooperation and global health. Most available studies concentrate on labour provisions in EU bilateral trade agreements; but whereas the latter are mostly non-binding regulations, intervention in the above-mentioned fields entails a redistribution of resources in favour of developing countries, which directly affects the well-being of poor people across the world. The analysis puts into focus the 15 years following the turn of the century and documents the meteoric rise and fall of the EU’s external social policy ambitions. The first section highlights the EU’s narrative on the social dimension of globalization, while the following two sections provide an overview of what the EU has done in the two areas under investigation, by contrasting discourse and policy practice. The evidence presented points to a mismatch between what EU institutions say and what they actually do. The last part of the chapter attempts to explain the mismatch by considering internal dynamics of EU policy-making, and the power balance between the EU and member states concerning foreign policy issues.