Can Transatlantic Trade Relations Be Institutionalised After Trump? Prospects for EU-US Trade Governance in the Era of Antiglobalist Populism

  • Robert G. Finbow
Part of the Studies in European Economic Law and Regulation book series (SEELR, volume 10)


This chapter assesses prospects for EU–US trade governance under the Trump administration, considering the dominance of political debate by plutocratic and populist extremes. It will explore how right populist resurgence is a backlash against global governance systems that have been indifferent to the impact of transnational integration on marginalised workers in post-industrial states. Transatlantic trade institutionalisation is undermined by a global system that enhances inequality, undermines job security and causes precarious living standards for many—a constituency ripe for protectionist, nationalist policies. However, Donald Trump’s use of populist rhetoric conceals his plutocratic motivations. The US’s move towards trade bilateralism—should it survive the chaotic beginnings of the administration—may undermine institutionalised mega-deals with Europe and elsewhere. But it will be motivated by plutocratic ambitions to escape constraining multilateral deals to impose US interests via bilateral trading arrangements where the US is the stronger partner.


  1. Akhtar SI, Jones VC (2013) Proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Brief Congressional Research ServiceGoogle Scholar
  2. Alden E (2017) Trump’s 2017 trade agenda: signs of a sensible direction. ‘Renewing America’, Council on Foreign Relations, March 1Google Scholar
  3. Autor D, Dorn D, Hanson G (2013) The China Syndrome: local labor market effects of import competition in the United States. Am Econ Rev 103(6):2121–2168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Autor D, Dorn D, Hanson G, Majlesi K (2016) Importing political polarization? The electoral consequences of rising trade exposure. NBER Working Paper, 22637, p 45Google Scholar
  5. Autor D, Dorn D, Hanson G, Majlesi K (2017) A note on the effect of rising trade exposure on the 2016 presidential election. [Appendix to Autor, Dorn, Hanson, and Majlesi “Importing Political Polarization? The Electoral Consequences of Rising Trade Exposure”] Available online at Accessed 1 June 2017
  6. Bartl M (2016) Making transnational markets: the institutional politics behind the TTIP (November 3, 2016). Postnational Rulemaking Working Paper No. 2016-12; Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-64Google Scholar
  7. Bartl M, Fahey E (2014) The postnational market place: negotiating the transantlantic trade and investment partnership. In: Fahey E, Curtin D (eds) A transatlantic community of law: legal perspectives on the relationship between the EU and US legal orders. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  8. Bendini R (2014) The European Union’s trade policy, five years after the Lisbon Treaty. European Parliament DG EXPO/B/PolDep/Note/2014_76Google Scholar
  9. Buncombe A (2016) Brexit: Donald Trump says British people have ‘taken back their country’. Independent, June 24Google Scholar
  10. De Ville F, Siles-Brügge G (2015) TTIP: the truth about the transatlantic trade and investment partnership. WileyGoogle Scholar
  11. Dorling D (2016) Stuart, Ben and Stubbs, Joshua Brexit, inequality and the demographic divide. LSE British Politics and Policy Blog, Dec. 2Google Scholar
  12. Dutton S et al (2016) Poll: Trump and Clinton voters on immigration, economy, trade. CBS News, July 14. See also the CBS polling data posted at
  13. Egan M (2017) For President Trump, tearing up trade agreements may be easier said than done. LSE US Centre Blog, Jan. 13Google Scholar
  14. European Commission DG Trade (2006) Global Europe: competing in the world. A contribution to the EU’s growth and jobs strategy. Accessed 11 Jan 2011
  15. European Commission DG Trade (2015) Trade for all: towards a more responsible trade and investment policy.
  16. Fidler DP (2017) President Trump, trade policy, and American grand strategy: from common advantage to collective carnage. Asian J WTO Int Health Law Policy 12(1)Google Scholar
  17. Finbow R (2013) The Eurozone crisis and the social dimension: prospects for democratic practice in a reconstituted fiscal union. In: Laursen F (ed) The EU and the Eurozone crisis: policy challenges and strategic choices. Ashgate, pp 45–64Google Scholar
  18. Finbow R (2016) Restructuring the state through economic and trade agreements: the case of investment disputes resolution. Polit Gov Special Issue “Supranational Institutions and Governance in an Era of Uncertain Norms”. Cogitatio Press 4(3):62–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Finbow R (2017) Rethinking state theories for the ‘Deconsolidation of Democracy’: the rise of pluralist plutocracies? Presented to the Canadian Political Science Association Annual Conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, June 1. Available online at <>, accessed 1 June 2017
  20. Fraser N (2016) Progressive neoliberalism versus reactionary populism: a choice that feminists should refuse. NORA-Nordic J Fem Gender Res 24(4):281–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Freund C (2017) Trump’s confrontational trade policy. Intereconomics 52(1):63–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fulton D (2016) Angela Merkel sounds death knell for TTIP—but don’t thank Donald Trump. Common Dreams, November 16Google Scholar
  23. Gabbit A (2015) Former occupy Wall Street protesters rally around Bernie Sanders campaign. The Guardian, Sept. 17Google Scholar
  24. Gardels N (2013) The rise of plutocracy. (Report). New Perspect Q 30:2Google Scholar
  25. Gastinger M (2017) Donald Trump’s flawed plan to strong-arm other countries into “one-on-one” trade deals. LES Blogs, March 8Google Scholar
  26. Gilens M, Page BI (2014) Testing theories of American politics: elites, interest groups, and average citizens. Perspect Polit 12(03):564–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Goodwin MJ, Heath O (2016) The 2016 referendum, Brexit and the left behind: an aggregate-level analysis of the result. Polit Q 87(3):323–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Guvenen F, Kaplan G, Song J, Weidner J (2017) Lifetime incomes in the United States over six decades. NBER Working Paper No. 23371Google Scholar
  29. Hamilton DS (2017) Next steps in the ‘Special Relationship’ – impact of a US-UK free trade agreement testimony to the Joint Hearing by the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation and Trade Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats of the Committee on Foreign Affairs U.S. House of Representatives, February 1Google Scholar
  30. Harmes A (2017) Neoliberalism, populism and Brexit. Paper prepared for Canadian Political Science Association Annual Meetings, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, June 1, 2017Google Scholar
  31. Hübner K (2016) Understanding Brexit. Eur Policy Anal 2(2):4–11Google Scholar
  32. Hughes L (2017) Senior Donald Trump aide warns European Union it can expect ‘hostility’ after Brexit. Telegraph, Feb. 22Google Scholar
  33. Inglehart R, Norris P (2016) Trump, Brexit, and the rise of populism: economic have-nots and cultural backlash. HKS Working Paper No. RWP16-026Google Scholar
  34. Kolko J (2016) Trump was stronger where the economy is weaker. Fivethirtyeight Politics Blog, Nov. 10Google Scholar
  35. Kruse K (2015) One nation under God: how Corporate America invented Christian America. Basic BooksGoogle Scholar
  36. Lester S (2017) Written Statement of Simon Lester, Trade Policy Analyst, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittees on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, and Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Next Steps in the “Special Relationship” – Impact of a US-UK Free Trade Agreement. February 1, 2017Google Scholar
  37. Lloyd PJ, MacLaren D (2006) The EU’s new trade strategy and regionalisation in the world economy. Aussenwirtschaft. 61(4):423–436Google Scholar
  38. Macdonald A (2017) EU relieved but wary after Trump endorses it as ‘wonderful’. Reuters, Feb. 24Google Scholar
  39. Mastel G (2016) Trump on trade. Int Econ; Washington 30(4):60–61, 88Google Scholar
  40. Mayer J (2016) Dark money: the hidden history of the billionaires behind the rise of the radical right. Doubleday, pp 178–185Google Scholar
  41. McNamara K (2017) Trump takes aim at the European Union. Foreign Affairs, January 24Google Scholar
  42. Mead WR (2017) The Jacksonian revolt: American populism and the liberal order. Foreign Aff 96:2Google Scholar
  43. Merrick R (2016) Brexit MPs hail Donald Trump’s shock win as ‘positive’ trade opportunity. Independent, Nov. 9Google Scholar
  44. Monnat SM (2016) Deaths of despair and support for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Pennsylvania State University Department of Agricultural Economics Research Brief, 5Google Scholar
  45. Moore J (2016) What President Trump’s victory means for the most important trade deal in the world. The Independent, Nov. 9, 2016Google Scholar
  46. Mudde C (2004) The populist zeitgeist. Gov Oppos 39:542–563CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mudde C, Kaltwasser CR (2013) Exclusionary vs. inclusionary populism: comparing contemporary Europe and Latin America. Gov Oppos 48:47–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. O’Brien K (2016) Uprising in the Rust Belt. Accessed 4 Oct 16
  49. Ojeda RH (2016) Donald Trump’s false narrative on Mexican migration and trade: a geopolitical economic analysis. UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Available online at
  50. Oliver T, Williams M (2017) Making the ‘Special Relationship’ great again? LSE IDEAS Strategic Update 17.1.
  51. Piketty T (2016) We must rethink globalization, or Trumpism will prevail. Guardian, Nov. 16, 2016. Available online at Accessed 1 June 2017
  52. Poulsen L, Bonnitcha J, Yackee J (2015 ) Transatlantic Investment Treaty Protection. Paper No. 3 in the CEPS-CTR Project on “TTIP in the Balance” Centre for European Policy Studies Special Report No. 102.
  53. Smart C, Schneider-Petsinger M (2017) A U.S.-UK trade agreement and the Trump re-election campaign. Real Clear World, April 17Google Scholar
  54. Smith KE (2017) The European Union in an illiberal world. Curr Hist 116(788):83–87Google Scholar
  55. Smith C, Santucci J (2016) Trump calls on working class to ‘Strike Back’ in final day of campaigning. ABC News Nov. 8Google Scholar
  56. Stephens P (2017) Why Britain may not want a US trade deal. Financial Times (March 16)Google Scholar
  57. Stokes B (2017) Views of NAFTA less positive – and more partisan – in U.S. than in Canada and Mexico. Pew Research Center FactTank, May 9Google Scholar
  58. Stratmann T (2005) Some talk: money in politics. A (partial) review of the literature. In: Shughart II WF, Tollison RD (eds) Policy challenges and political responses. Springer, pp 135–156Google Scholar
  59. Teney C, Lacewell OP, De Wilde P (2013) Winners and losers of globalization in Europe: attitudes and ideologies. Eur Polit Sci Rev, NovemberCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tussie D, Saguier M (2011) The sweep of asymmetric trade negotiations: overview. In: Bilal S, de Lombaerde P, Tussie D (eds) The sweep of asymmetric trade negotiations: problems, processes and prospects. Ashgate, pp 1–16Google Scholar
  61. Von der Burchard H (2015) Oh, Canada: surprise loser in US-EU trade deal controversy over TTIP threatens to delay ratification on a smaller pact with Canada. Politico, April 29. Available at
  62. Welch T (2017) Despite deal with Trump, carrier cutting more than 600 American jobs from U.S. factory. Sacramento Bee, May 23Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations