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The Rise of 'Global Europe': Interests and Ideas in the Making of EU Trade Policy

Siles-Brügge, Gabriel (2012) The Rise of 'Global Europe': Interests and Ideas in the Making of EU Trade Policy. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The 2006 ‘Global Europe’ communication represented an important shift in the European Union’s (EU’s) trade strategy, ending a previous ‘moratorium’ on new free trade agreements and leading the EU to embark on a series of trade negotiations with emerging economies. In this thesis I study the drivers of this on-going preferential trade agenda. This poses a puzzle for conventional understandings of EU trade policy. While EU Studies approaches have treated it as uniquely insulated, focusing instead on supposedly ‘exceptional’ institutional determinants of policy, the shift to ‘Global Europe’ occurred in the absence of any institutional change to EU trade governance. I therefore begin by situating the study of EU trade policy within the discipline of International Political Economy (IPE), focusing on the role played by lobbyists (especially from the services sector) within a wider systemic context. I also suggest that rationalist approaches are insufficient to explain ‘Global Europe’ as the Commission’s Directorate General (DG) for Trade served the interests of upmarket exporters at the expense of defensive interests. Given a strong mobilisation of protectionists with access to policymakers this liberal policy outcome cannot be explained purely in terms of institutional insulation nor be simply ‘read off’ from the material interests of societal actors. In contrast, I develop a novel constructivist IPE framework. While policymakers internalised a neoliberal discourse on the desirability, but politically contingent nature of, trade liberalisation – explaining why DG Trade pursued the policies it did, heeding the arguments of certain lobbyists over others – they consciously used a more necessitarian discourse in their public pronouncements to legitimate their agenda of market-opening. This approach also allows me to explain the recent convergence of what are traditionally seen as two distinct arenas of trade policymaking: the EU’s ‘commercial’ trade agenda and its ‘developmental’ agreements with Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Mr Gabriel Siles-Brügge
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2012 15:29
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2013 13:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2316

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