CLEER WP 2013/6 - Cremona, Takács (eds.)

Trade liberalisation and standardisation – new directions in the ‘low politics’ of EU foreign policy

Marise Cremona and Tamara Takács (eds.)

The EU’s ‘low politics’ of trade and investment negotiations and its export of standards have played an important role in shaping the role of the Union on the international stage. As the world’s largest trading bloc, the European Union has been eager to maintain its position on international markets and increase its competitiveness. Whereas the EU - a member of the World Trade Organization and an actor that (allegedly) speaks with one voice in all of its trade and investment relations – professes multilateralism, it has consistently pursued a policy of entering into preferential trade agreements at bilateral and interregional levels. In fact, globalisation’s profound impact on EU trade relations has resulted in a patchwork of preferential trade arrangements and a continued drive towards the harmonisation of laws, so as to secure market access and create regulatory convergence and interoperability. To boost global competitiveness of European industries, regulatory convergence as a policy objective has been revived in EU-led trade talks by aiming for increased standardisation and/ or mutual recognition. The present Working Paper collects the contributions presented at a conference co-organised by the European University Institute (EUI) and the Centre for the Law of EU External Relations (CLEER) in June 2012. The conference brought together leading academics and practitioners to explore whether and to what extent trade liberalisation and harmonisation can be regarded as successful ‘low-politics’ areas in EU foreign policy and what the challenges are that the EU is and will be facing in these areas. The papers look at current developments in the EU’s trade policy from three perspectives: (i) the legal and policy objectives that the EU applies in its preferential trade arrangements, with particular attention to interregional approaches, the linking of trade to development and conciliation with multilateral efforts in market liberalisation; (ii) the role of and applied practices in the Union’s efforts to promote standardization within the WTO and with regard some particularly important trade partners, such as the US and China; and (iii) challenges and EU strategies for reconciliatory efforts in investment policy within the context of trade.


Marise Cremona, Gracia Marín Durán, Frank Hoffmeister, Tamara Perišin, Sergey Ripinsky, Diana Rosert, Tamara Takács, Andrea Wechsler, Stephen Woolcock


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CLEER WP 2013/6 - Cremona, Takács (eds.)