chapter  11
16 Pages

European union regulatory capitalism and multilateral trade negotiations

International relations scholars have developed a strong interest in the study of

the European Union’s (EU’s) trade policy at the World Trade Organization

(WTO) because it is one of the rare external domains of exclusive EU compe-

tence. They have focused essentially on the influence of institutional processes

(Hanson 1998: 61-65; Meunier 2000; Meunier and Nicolaı¨dis 1999) or eco-

nomic interests (Messerlin 2001: 17) on the direction of EU trade policy at the

WTO. Most of these studies are rather critical of EU trade policy and warn of

the dangers of the potential for protectionism in the EU political system. Meu-

nier and Nicolaı¨dis (1999: 498) warn that the fragmented EU decision-making

process could encourage member states to ‘log-roll’ protectionist concessions for

one another in the Council of Ministers.1 Messerlin (2001: 42) criticises the high

degree of EU protectionism in twenty-two agricultural and industrial sectors.

Yet, despite this criticism, some scholars consider EU trade policy to be rather

liberal in nature.