The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

European Union (EU) Trade Policy

  • Stephen Woolcock
Reference work entry


The European Union’s (EU) role in international trade has evolved from a defensive position during the 1960s and 1970s, to being a firm supporter of a rule-based multilateral trading system as a member of the Quad (US, EU, Japan and Canada) in the 1980s and to a role in which it aspires to leadership. Shifts in relative market power with the rise of emerging markets has, however, undermined the EU’s ability to shape outcomes. Thanks to a well-developed internal acquis, the EU has developed common policies on all trade and trade-related topics, but the normative power this provides has had little discernable impact on multilateral trade outcomes. The decision-making procedures of the EU have functioned tolerably well up to now thanks to Member States having confidence and trust in the way decisions are made and the way the Commission, as agent, is controlled. The need to integrate the European Parliament (EP) into decision-making procedures following the Lisbon (TFEU) Treaty is, however, likely to result in a period of uncertainty.


European community European Union GATT International trade Multilateralism WTO 

JEL Classifications

F10 F13 F20 
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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Woolcock
    • 1
  1. 1.