Handbook of European Policies
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Handbook of European Policies

Interpretive Approaches to the EU

Edited by Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Münch

This definitive Handbook addresses the current lack of research into European policymaking and development using an interpretive perspective. Questioning areas that mainstream approaches tend to neglect, contributors target the ways in which ideas, arguments and discourses shape policies in the institutional context of the EU.
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Chapter 10: EU trade policy

Yelter Bollen


A majority of the research on EU trade policy has its roots in rationalist-institutionalism. This ‘mainstream’ has become increasingly eclectic in the past decade, and a small but growing number of authors have distanced themselves more clearly from the dominant current. However, there is no real ‘research program’ binding these scholars together and their work remains a small proportion of the field’s total output. A more expansive interpretivist agenda will require that we look at the commitments and world views of the people involved in producing it. I show where such a line of inquiry may take us: an exploration of the language, the ways of thinking and the overall institutional and discursive context in which DG Trade, national trade administrations and ‘the public’ are embedded.

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