Young, Alasdair R. (2007) Trade Politics Ain’t What It Used to Be: The Challenges for EU Policy and Analysis. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)
[From the introduction]. The European Union is the world’s largest exporter of goods and services and the world’s largest market. It is also a key player in multilateral trade negotiations. It is, however, an unusual ‘trade power’ in that it is an international organisation, as well as an international actor. This means that its negotiating positions reflect the aggregation of the preferences of the governments of its member states. In the EU trade policy literature this situation is usually captured by the metaphor of the ‘three level game:’ domestic, European and international. In practice, however, the tendency has been to treat the member states’ positions as given, effectively collapsing the three-level game into a two-level game with the European level as the ‘domestic’ level. Moreover, the member states’ preferences regarding liberalisation or protectionism are taken to be fairly stable. This paper argues that while there is some merit in such assumptions they are becoming increasingly unsustainable. This paper argues that the member states’ trade policy preferences are shifting and becoming more complex for four reasons, most of which are common to all developed states. First, particularly since the mid-1990s the benefits of free trade have come to be widely accepted within the EU for reasons both of interests and ideas. Second, trade policy is no longer just about tariffs and quotas. The increasing attention to the trade effects of regulatory measures both engages many more actors in trade policy and alters the cost-benefit assessment of liberalisation. Third, in part in response to the changing nature of trade, a ‘deep trade agenda’ – focusing on developing common rules, rather than just disciplining national ones – has emerged. Fourth, trade policy is no longer about just trade. Particularly since the failed World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial in Seattle in December 1999, trade policy has become framed as an instrument to foster development. Given these changes more attention needs to be paid to the trade politics within the member states, implying a more thorough application of the three-level game, if we are to understand the EU’s trade policy preferences. The paper begins by drawing a distinction between positions and preferences and states and governments, before examining the analysis of trade policy making and the assumptions about member state positions. It then explores a number of factors contributing to the member governments’ preferences with regard to traditional, at-the-border trade policy, before describing the changes to trade policy and politics and exploring their implications for the trade policy preferences of the governments of the member states. It illustrates these changes with examples from the formation and development of the EU’s negotiating position in the Doha Round of multilateral trade talks. It concludes by drawing out the implications for EU trade policy and its analysis and for international political economy more generally.
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