chapter  5
Variation in EU member states’ preferences and the Commission’s discretion in the Doha Round
ByEugénia da Conceição-Heldt
Pages 17

During the current round of multilateral trade negotiations (Doha Round), there have been several situations where conflict has arisen between member states and the European Commission (hereafter the Commission). Before the Hong Kong ministerial meeting in 2005 and the 2006 Geneva informal meeting, there was strong and increasing opposition among member states to further concessions on agricultural issues. Nevertheless, the Commission decided to make an additional further-reaching offer on the reduction of domestic support subsidies and on decreasing tariff rates in order to improve market access. Based on data collected from the European agency news (Agence Europe) and interviews with officials from the 133 Committee, the Special Committee on Agriculture (SCA) as well as the Commission’s Directorates-General (DGs) for Trade and Agriculture, this contribution shows that preference heterogeneity among member states with two camps of nearly equal size, under the condition that one of the camps supports the Commission, a vague negotiating mandate and conflicting messages from principals all give the agent in international trade negotiations more discretion and thus a greater ability to secure package deals.