Domestic Politics in EU External Economic Relations: US-EU Competition in Trade

  • Aukje van Loon
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


The European Union (EU) is a key player in international trade relations with its foreign trade policy having a great influence on shaping the international political economy. EU trade policy, however, is equally shaped in response to the trade policies of other actors. Especially EU-United States (US) trade relations are crucial to analysing the EU as a global power in the making. Since the mid-1990s, the EU has concluded free trade agreements (FTAs) with several emerging markets. The first FTA accomplished was with Mexico; its latest FTA concluded was with the Republic of Korea. What drives the EU to accomplish FTAs with some emerging markets and not others? To explain this puzzle a liberal or societal approach will be proposed including two explanatory variables. The first variable draws attention to the global economic context within which EU foreign trade policy is rooted thereby highlighting in particular US-EU competition in trade. The second variable focusses on economic interests dominant in the domestic politics of EU member states. This will be illustrated by a short analysis of the EU-Mexico FTA.


European Union Trade Policy Trade Liberalisation North American Free Trade Agreement Trade Negotiation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aggarwal, V., & Fogarty, E. (Eds.). (2004). EU trade strategies. Between globalism and regionalism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Ahearn, R. (2011). U.S.—EU trade and economic relations: Key policy issues for the 112th congress. CRS Report for Congress, R41652. Accessed April 8, 2012, from
  3. Baccini, L., & Dür, A. (2012). The new regionalism and policy interdependence. British Journal of Political Science, 42(1), 57–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baldwin, R. (1993). A domino theory of regionalism (NBER Working Paper No. 4465).Google Scholar
  5. Baldwin, R. (1997). The causes of regionalism. The World Economy, 20(7), 865–888.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barfield, C. (2007). US trade policy: The emergence of regional and bilateral alternatives to multilateralism. Intereconomics, Sept/Oct. pp. 239–249. Accessed April 2, 2012, from
  7. BDI (1997). Mexikanischer Staatspräsident Zedillo im BDI: BDI-Präsident Henkel befürwortet Freihandelsabkommen zwischen der EU und Mexiko. Pressemitteilung, October 7, 1997, Nr. 108/97. Accessed December 1, 2009, from
  8. Bergsten, F. (2002, December 4). A competitive approach to free trade. Financial Times. Accessed March 9, 2012, from
  9. Bhagwati, J. (1995). US trade policy: The infatuation with FTAs (Discussion Paper Series No. 726). Colombia University.Google Scholar
  10. Brenton, P. (2000). The changing nature and determinants of EU trade policies. Brussels: CEPS.Google Scholar
  11. Burckhardt, C. (2013). The European Union as an actor in international trade relations. In A. Boening, J. Kremer, & A. van Loon (Eds.), Global Power Europe–Policies, actions, influences of the EU’s external relations (Vol. 2, pp. 275–294). Heidelberg/Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  12. Busse, M., Huth, M., & Koopmann, G. (2000). Preferential trade agreements: The case of the EU-Mexico free trade agreement (HWWA Discussion Paper No. 103).Google Scholar
  13. Cameron, M., & Tomlin, B. (2000). The making of NAFTA: How the deal was done. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Crawford, J., & Fiorentino, R. (2005). The changing landscape of regional trade agreements (WTO Discussion Paper No. 8). Accessed January 12, 2009, from
  15. Damro, C. (2012). Market power Europe. Journal of European Public Policy, 19(5), 682–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bundesregierung, Presse- und Informationsamt der (1995), Lateinamerika-Konzept der Bundesregierung vom 17.5.1995, Bonn.Google Scholar
  17. Die Tageszeitung (1996). Der Kanzler auf Werbetour in Lateinamerika, September 16, 1996. Accessed December 2, 2009, from
  18. Dür, A. (2007). EU trade policy as protection for exporters: The agreements with Mexico and Chile. Journal of Common Market Studies, 45(4), 833–855.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dür, A. (2008). Bringing economic interests back into the study of EU trade policy-making. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 10(1), 27–45.Google Scholar
  20. Dür, A. (2010). Protection for exporters: Power and discrimination in transatlantic trade relations, 1930–2010. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Eising, R. (2009). The political economy of state-business relations in Europe. Interest mediation, capitalism and EU policy-making. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Ethier, W. (1998). The new regionalism. The Economic Journal, 108(449), 1149–1161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. European Commisson (2002). Country Strategy Paper 2002–2006 Mexico. Accessed April 20, 2008, from
  24. European Commission (1995). Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament: ‘Towards Closer Relations between the European Union and Mexico’. COM(95)03 final (Brussels: CEC). Accessed April 4, 2010, from
  25. European Commission (2006). Global Europe: Competing in the World. A Contribution to the EU’s Growth and Jobs Strategy. Accessed February 2, 2011, from
  26. Feinberg, R. (2003). The political economy of United States’ free trade arrangements. The World Economy, 26(7), 1019–1040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (1999). Wirtschaft verstärkt Förderung nach Freihandel mit Mexiko, November, 8, 1997. Accessed December 14, 2009, from
  28. Freund, C. (2001). German foreign trade policy within the EU and GATT. In V. Rittberger (Ed.), German foreign policy since unification. Theories and case studies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Gavin, B., & Sindzingre, A. (2009). EU trade relations with emerging Asia: Identifying the issues. Asia Europe Journal, 7, 9–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Glania, G., & Matthes, J. (2005). Multilateralism or regionalism? Trade policy options for the European union. Brussels: CEPR.Google Scholar
  31. Graziani, G. (2011). What is new with the new trade policy of the EU. In K. Hübner (Ed.), Europe, Canada and the comprehensive economic and trade agreement (pp. 59–76). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  32. Guerrieri, P., & Caratelli, I. (2006). EU’s Regional trade strategy, the challenges ahead. The International Trade Journal, 20(2), 139–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Guerrieri, P., & Dimon, D. (2006). The trade regionalism of the United States and the European Union: Cooperative or competitive strategies. The International Trade Journal, 20(2), 85–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Haggard, S. (1997). Regionalism in Asia and the Americas. In E. Mansfield & H. Milner (Eds.), The political economy of regionalism. New York, NY: Colombia University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Heydon, K., & Woolcock, S. (2009). The rise of bilateralism. Comparing American, European and Asian approaches to preferential trade agreements. New York, NY: UNU Press.Google Scholar
  36. Horn, H., Mavroidis, P., & Sapir, A. (2009). Beyond the WTO? An anatomy of EU and US preferential trade agreements. Brussels: Bruegel.Google Scholar
  37. Hufbauer, C., & Goodrich, B. (2004). Lessons from NAFTA. In J. Schott (Ed.), Free trade agreements: US strategies and priorities (pp. 37–50). Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
  38. Inter-American Development Bank (2004). Integration and Trade in the Americas. III EU-LAC Summit: Special Issue on Latin American and Caribbean Economic Relations with the European Union. Washington, DC: IABD. Accessed April 15, 2012, from
  39. Kinkel, K (1995). Lateinamerika-Konzept der Bundesregierung, Erklärung des Bundesregierung abgegeben in der 56. Sitzung des Deutschen Bundestages am 22. September 1995. Accessed January 1, 2010, from
  40. Koopmann, G. (2007). Tripartite Regionalism in Latin America. Intereconomics, Sept/Oct. pp. 255–259. Accessed April 2, 2012, from
  41. Lamy, P. (2002). Mexico and the EU: Married Partners, Lovers, Or Just Good Friends?, Institute of European Integration Studies, Instituto Technologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM), Mexico City, April 29, 2002. Accessed September 12, 2011, from
  42. Lateinamerika Nachrichten Online (1996). Sprinter Kohl in Lateinamerika/Werbung für die deutsche Wirtschaft im Schnelldurchgang. Ausgabe 269, November 1996. Accessed 29 November, 2009, from
  43. Mandelson, P. (2006). Bilateral agreement in EU trade policy. Speech 06/574 delivered at the London School of Economics. London, 9 October. Accessed January 13, 2008, from
  44. Manger, M. (2009). Investing in protection: The politics of preferential trade agreements between north and south. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  45. Manners, I. (2002). Normative power Europe: A contradiction in terms? Journal of Common Market Studies, 40(2), 235–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mansfield, E., & Milner, H. (1999). The new wave of regionalism. International Organization, 53(3), 589–627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mansfield, E., & Reinhardt, E. (2003). Multilateral determinants of regionalism: The effects of GATT/WTO on the formation of preferential trade arrangements. International Organization, 57(4), 829–862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McGuire, S., & Smith, M. (2008). The European Union and the United States: Competition and convergence in the global arena. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  49. Messerlin, P. (2001). Measuring the costs of protection in Europe. European commercial policy in the 2000s. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
  50. Meunier, S. (2005). Trading voices: The European union in international commercial negotiations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Meunier, S., & Nicolaidis, K. (1999). Who speaks for Europe? The delegation of trade authority in the EU. Journal of Common Market Studies, 37(3), 477–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Meunier, S., & Nicolaidis, K. (2006). The European Union as a conflicted trade power. Journal of European Public Policy, 13(6), 906–925.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Moravcsik, A. (1997). Taking preferences seriously: A liberal theory of international politics. International Organization, 51(4), 513–553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Oatley, T. (2006). Interests and institutions in the global economy (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Longman.Google Scholar
  55. Peterson, J., & Sjursen, H. (Eds.). (1998). A common foreign policy for Europe? CompetingVisions of the CFSP. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Preuße, H. (2000). Sechs Jahre Nordamerikanisches Freihandelsabkommen (NAFTA)—Eine Bestandsaufnahme. Tübinger Diskussionsbeitrag Nr. 183.Google Scholar
  57. Rosen, H. (2004). Free trade agreements as foreign policy tools: The US-Israel and US-Jordan FTAs. In J. Schott (Ed.), Free trade agreements: US strategies and priorities (pp. 51–77). Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
  58. Sapir, A. (1998). The political economy of EC regionalism. European Economic Review, 42(3–5), 717–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Sapir, A. (Ed.). (2007). Fragmented power: Europe and the global economy. Brussels: Bruegel.Google Scholar
  60. Sbragia, A. (2010). The EU, the US, and trade policy: Competitive interdependence in the management of globalization. Journal of European Public Policy, 17(3), 368–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schirm, S. (2002). Globalization and the new regionalism: Global markets, domestic politics, and regional cooperation. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  62. Schirm, S. (2009). Ideas and interests in global financial governance: Comparing German and US preference formation. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22(3), 501–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schirm, S. (2011). Varieties of strategies: Societal influences on British and German responses to the global economic crisis. Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 19(1), 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schirm, S. (2013). Global politics are domestic politics: A societal approach to divergence in the G20. Review of International Studies. Available on CJO 2012. doi:10.1017/S0260210512000216 (Print version forthcoming 2013).Google Scholar
  65. Schott, J. (2004). Assessing US FTA policy. In J. Schott (Ed.), Free trade agreements: US strategies and priorities (pp. 359–381). Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.Google Scholar
  66. Schott, J. (2009). America, Europe and the new trade order. Business and Politics, 11(3), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sjursen, H. (2006). The EU as a ‘normative’ power: How can this be? Journal of European Public Policy, 13(2), 235–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Smith, M. (2009). Transatlantic economic relations in a changing global political economy: Achieving togetherness but missing the Bus? The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 11(1), 94–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Solis, M., & Katada, S. (2009). Explaining FTA proliferation: A policy diffusion framework. In M. Solis, B. Stallings, & S. Katada (Eds.), Competitive regionalism FTA diffusion in the Pacific Rim (pp. 1–24). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Thiel, E. (1998). Ambitions and ambiguities in current economic regionalism. In J. van Scherpenberg & E. Thiel (Eds.), Towards rival regionalism? US and EU regional regulatory regime building (pp. 60–72). Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  71. Van Scherpenberg, J. (2006). Integrating the Atlantic Economic Area. SWP Research Paper. Accessed January 10, 2012, from
  72. Whalley, J. (2008). Recent regional agreements Why So many, Why So much variance in form, Why coming So fast, and where Are they headed? The World Economy, 31(4), 517–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Woolcock, S. (2005a). European union trade policy: Domestic institutions and systemic factors. In D. Kelly & W. Grant (Eds.), The politics of international trade in the twenty-first century. Actors, issues and regional dynamics (pp. 235–251). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  74. Woolcock, S. (2007a). European Union policy towards free trade agreements. ECIPE (Working Paper No. 3).Google Scholar
  75. Woolcock, S. (2007b). European Union Policy on Free Trade. Intereconomics, Sept/Oct. pp. 236–239. Accessed April 2, 2012, from
  76. Woolcock, S. (2007c). Regional economic diplomacy. In N. Bayne & S. Woolcock (Eds.), The New economic diplomacy. Decision-making and negotiation in international economic relations (2nd ed., pp. 221–240). Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  77. Zoellick, R. (2002, December 5). Unleashing the trade winds. The Economist. Accessed March 2, 2012, from

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Politics, Institute of Political ScienceRuhr-Universität BochumBochumGermany

Personalised recommendations