Trading for Statehood: Integrating the EU’s External Dimension, 1963–2010

Friday, July 14, 2017
JWS - Stevenson Lecture Theatre (University of Glasgow)
Markus Gastinger , TU Dresden
This paper covers a hitherto overlooked but crucial aspect of Europe’s emergence as a global actor by arguing that the Commission used its monopoly to conclude trade agreements on the bilateral plane to purposefully integrate the EU’s external dimension. While previous research has extensively dealt with multilateral trade policy at the World Trade Organization, the flipside of how the EU employs bilateral trade agreements (BTAs) has attracted considerably less attention. This is all the more surprising as BTAs today cover a wide array of issues extending beyond primarily commercial interests, addressing such a diverse field of areas as development co-operation, the coordination of positions within international organizations or inter-parliamentary exchange. In fact, it is an open empirical puzzle why EU BTAs increased in scope far beyond those of, for example, the United States. In brief, I argue that the Commission has used its crown competencies in trade to enhance its external action capabilities and become a fully-fledged global actor that can, in many respects, be likened to a state. I explain the Commission strategy to reach this goal and highlight key milestones. In contrast to the integration of the EU’s internal dimension, this is not a zero-sum game where more competencies for the EU mean fewer for member states. Rather, the EU has become an additional actor and stands alongside its member states on the global stage. Integrating the external dimension is thus markedly different from internal policies, where sovereignty costs are a necessary price to pay for deeper integration.