EU Policies and Approaches
- Leuven Global Governance series
Edited by Jan Wouters, Axel Marx, Dylan Geraets and Bregt Natens
Chapter 8: The EU GSP: a preference for human rights and good governance? The case of Myanmar
The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty has firmly anchored the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the European Union (EU)’s external relations (see, for example, Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU)). The EU has therefore set out to use its well-established Common Commercial Policy (CCP) (Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)) to ‘make trade work in a way that helps human rights’ (Council of the EU, 2012) through a ‘sticks and carrots’ approach (Vandenberghe, 2008), by which commercial incentives are made conditional upon compliance with the EU’s normative agenda. The CCP can in this light be understood as a ‘trump card that the EU uses to reward (or sanction) countries when they pursue (or refuse) structural reforms’ (Keukeleire, Thiers and Justaert, 2009: 156). Throughout its CCP, the EU is thus seeking to advance a ‘deep trade agenda’ (Postnikov and Bastiaens, 2014) and to realize a much discussed ‘trade-development-human rights nexus’. This is done by granting preferential market access to developing countries in exchange for the promotion and enforcement of human rights standards under its unilateral Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and by including human rights clauses in its bilateral trade agreements (Fierro, 2001).
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