In a deeply iniquitous world, where the gains from trade are distributed unevenly and where trade rules often militate against progressive social values, human health, and sustainable development, NGOs are widely touted as our best hope for redressing these conditions. As a critical voice of the poor and marginalized, many are engaged in a global struggle for democratic norms and social justice. Yet the potential for NGOs to bring about meaningful change is limited. This book examines whether improvements in participatory opportunities for progressive NGOs results in substantive and normative policy change in one of the major trading powers, the European Union.
Hannah advances a constructivist account of the role of NGOs in the EU’s trade policymaking process. She argues that NGOs have been instrumental in providing education, raising awareness, and giving a voice to broader societal concerns about proposed trade deals, both when they take advantage of formal participatory opportunities and when they protest from the streets and in the media. However, the book also highlights how NGO inputs are mediated by the social structure of global trade governance. Epistemes—the background knowledge, ideological and normative beliefs, and shared assumptions about how the world works—determine who has a voice in global trade governance.
Showing how NGOs succeed only when their advocacy conforms broadly to the dominant episteme, this book will be of value to scholars and students with an interest in NGOs and international trade negotiations. It will also be of interest to policymakers, national trade negotiators, government departments, and the trade policy community.