Handbook on the EU and International Trade
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Handbook on the EU and International Trade

Edited by Sangeeta Khorana and María García

The Handbook on the EU and International Trade presents a multidisciplinary overview of the major perspectives, actors and issues in contemporary EU trade relations. Changes in institutional dynamics, Brexit, the politicisation of trade, competing foreign policy agendas, and adaptation to trade patterns of value chains and the digital and knowledge economy are reshaping the European Union's trade policy. The authors tackle how these challenges frame the aims, processes and effectiveness of trade policy making in the context of the EU's trade relations with developed, developing and emerging states in the global economy.
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Chapter 15: The European Union and Fair Trade: hands off ?

Deborah Martens and Jan Orbie


Since the Lisbon Treaty, promoting ‘free and fair trade’ has explicitly become an objective of the EU’s relations with the wider world. However, it remains rather unclear what the EU’s position concerning Fair Trade exactly is. An important obstacle here is the ambiguous meaning of the concept ‘Fair Trade’. Therefore, a framework is developed to unravel its diverse meanings and to structure the debate. This framework is then used to analyse the EU’s position and how it has evolved over time. Whereas the EU launched a number of trade initiatives aiming at redressing the unequal distribution of benefits in favour of developing countries in the 1970s, the general neoliberal shift in Western politics during the 1980s and 1990s was also translated into EU trade policy. Currently, Fair Trade initiatives follow a piecemeal approach and do not question but rather reinforce the prevalence of the neoliberal trade system.

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