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Ideas and Institutions in the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements: A Study of EU Policy Evolution and the SADC-Minus Negotiations

Murray Evans, Peg (2014) Ideas and Institutions in the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements: A Study of EU Policy Evolution and the SADC-Minus Negotiations. PhD thesis, University of York.

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In the mid 1990s, the European Union (EU) abandoned its legal defence of the Lomé Convention, which had governed EU relations with European former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (the ACP countries) since 1975. In its place, the EU proposed a series of comprehensive regional free trade agreements – the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) – which went far beyond the requirements of WTO rules in their scope. In this thesis, I aim to add to existing understandings of the EPAs by explaining (a) why the EU sought to recast the EU-ACP relationship in the form of ambitious interregional free trade agreements; and (b) why the EU was able to achieve only limited and uneven success in reaching agreements that matched these aims. In order to address these questions, I develop a theoretical approach that combines insights from constructivist and historical institutionalisms. I aim to contribute to existing constructivist approaches by (a) investigating the emergence of complexity and contradiction within policy outputs over time; and (b) exploring the role of strategic appeals to institutional constraints in persuasive discourse. I use this theoretical approach to draw analytical linkages between the internal processes through which EU external economic projections are formed and their external reach. Specifically, I highlight the emergence of a range of contradictions within the EU’s approach to the EPA negotiations and explore the role of these contradictions in facilitating the contestation of the EPAs by actors from across the ACP regions and particularly from the case study region, SADC-minus. Overall, I argue that the EU’s external economic policy aims and tools are the product of the strategic actions of purposive actors working within the context of path-dependent institutional structures and patterns of past relations with the outside world. In this context, the reach and limitations of EU external economic actions are contingent upon the historical processes through which they are constructed and the understandings, strategies and alternatives that external partners bring to the table.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: European Union, ACP, Southern Africa, SADC, Trade, Development, Constructivism
Academic Units: The University of York > Politics (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.640705
Depositing User: Dr Peg Murray Evans
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2015 14:29
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8294

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