Discourse theory as a novel approach for research on EU trade policy

Authored by: Thomas Jacobs , Jan Orbie

The Routledge Handbook of Critical European Studies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138589919
eBook ISBN: 9780429491306
Adobe ISBN:


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International trade policy is one of the oldest and most prominent competences of the European Union (EU). Decisions relating to international trade (trade between EU members and non-EU members) have a substantial impact on the distribution of wealth between and within countries. Particularly, those domestic distributive effects have recently received ample attention. Trade liberalization (and protection) benefits some groups in society to the detriment of others – it is often said that trade creates winners and losers. And as world trade becomes ever more liberalized, the importance of these domestic distributive effects grows bigger. Since the EU and many of its main trading partners already have low trade barriers, new trade agreements tend to create less new cake than previous agreements did, making the question of who gets that little extra cake (or gets a larger share of the existing parts of the cake) all the more crucial (De Ville and Siles-Brügge 2015). Moreover, new EU trade agreements go far beyond the liberalization or protection through tariff barriers: they increasingly establish regulations in areas (such as intellectual property, competition, investment, food safety) that were previously the exclusive domain of domestic politics.

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