EU's Value-Based Approach in Trade Policy: (Free) Trade for All?

Publication Date: 
11 March 2019
Publication Language: 
Appearing in: 
Global Affairs

In this paper, we discuss the EU's value-based approach in trade policies and argue that it is not new, however until now it has not been effective in making sure “trade benefits all”. In recent years, the European Commission explicitly stressed the importance of values in trade, responding to the contestation of EU trade policy. Contrary to what the recent discourse suggests, values have always been part of the EU's trade policy. Despite the long tradition of value-promotion, however, results have been limited. First, since the mid-nineties, the pursuit of several values in the EU's trade policy has been subordinated to the primary goal of opening up markets and increasing trade flows. Second, some ramifications inherent to free trade hinder the EU's ability to actually defend the values it puts forward. This paves way for further contestation of the EU's external trade.

European Union; external trade; trade liberalization; values; human rights; civil society; development