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International Relations and the European Union

International Relations and the European Union (3rd edn)

Christopher Hill, Michael Smith, and Sophie Vanhoonacker
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date: 09 December 2023

p. 20910. The European Union as a Trade Powerlocked

p. 20910. The European Union as a Trade Powerlocked

  • Sophie Meunier
  •  and Kalypso Nicolaïdis


This chapter examines the determinants of the European Union's trade power as well as the contribution of trade policy to the power of Europe in the international system. It first considers how the EU acquired and expanded competence to represent the member states in trade policy, from the Common Commercial Policy in the Treaty of Rome to trade policy after the Treaty of Lisbon. It then provides an overview of the EU trade policymaking process before discussing the exercise of the EU's trade power. In particular, it explores the European single market and world trade liberalization, settlement of disputes in the World Trade Organization, and the EU's retreat from multilateralism. The chapter also looks at preferential trade agreements, along with bilateral and regional agreements, and concludes with an analysis of how the EU is resolving the tensions inherent to being a world power in trade and through trade.

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