Peterson, John. (2007) EU Trade Policy as Foreign Policy: Does Strategy plus Activity = Strategic Action? In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)
Is trade policy a surrogate for a non-existent European Union (EU) foreign policy? Is it a central element in a more or less coherent European foreign policy? These questions expose a basic tension between the views of trade purists and foreign policy specialists, both academic and practitioner. For purists, EU foreign policy objectives intrude, as they should not, on trade policy. For foreign policy specialists, trade is the principal European foreign policy tool and what makes it a ‘civilian power’. This paper challenges both views as part of an investigation into Europe’s capacity for ‘strategic action’ – coordinated action in the pursuit of defined goals – in trade policy, but also more generally. It argues that EU trade policy remains a primary vehicle for the expression of collective European power, but that it is a highly contested, rules-bound, and atomized arena of policy. The EU occasionally acts strategically in trade policy, but rarely across policy sectors. There is little evidence to sustain the arguments that EU trade policy is closely coordinated with the Common Foreign and Security Policy, that it acts as a surrogate for it, or that the EU deploys a ‘structural foreign policy’.
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