The EU as a ‘Normative’ or Traditional ‘Market’ Trade Power

  • Arlo Poletti
  • Daniela Sicurelli


Trade policy is among the most prominent policies to be placed under supranational competence of the EU. For this reason, trade negotiations represent a preferential arena for the EU to emerge as a normative leader internationally. This aspiration has affected the positions of the EU both in the Doha Development Round, since 2001, and in the negotiation of PTAs, since 2006. Due to this commitment to norm promotion, constructivist and institutionalist scholars have represented the EU as a distinct player in international relations. From these perspectives, identity and institutional pressures that shape its negotiating positions make it a different actor in the international trade arena, namely, a normative power. On the contrary, mainstream political-economy scholars challenge the representation of the EU as an exceptional actor and tend to conceive of European trade policy as the result of the preferences, patterns of political mobilization, and influence of organized societal groups. These arguments point to the importance of different factors in determining these domestic political processes, including traditional market access concerns, domino effects triggered by the trade policy initiative of the EU’s major trade competitors, and different levels of integration in the GVCs with partner countries.


Trade policy Normative Power Europe identity institutions political economy 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arlo Poletti
    • 1
  • Daniela Sicurelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Social ResearchUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly

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