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EU multi-level trade policy: neither coherent nor development-friendly

Global Labour University Working Papers
Paper No. 2, Feb 2008

EU multi-level trade policy: neither coherent nor development-friendly

Birgit Mahnkopf

In this paper, we will endeavour to explain why EU trade politics is neither
coherent with its development policy nor development-friendly. This becomes
even more obvious when one looks at the numerous bilateral trade agreements
already signed and still in the process of negotiation. While the EU views itself as
a true believer in multilateral policy, it succeeded to negotiate more Preferential
Trade Agreements than the US.

Against this background it is to be shown in the following that Preferential Trade
Agreements (PTA) including Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) deserves more
attention, and that the new trade strategy of the European Community is
mimicking the prevalent US approach to trade politics, and thus should come
under attack from trade unions and civil society movements. Finally, this paper
argues that although in principle PTAs can include labour-friendly provisions
more easily than at the WTO level, trade unions’ more ambivalent attitude
towards PTAs is justified. However, from a development point of view, trade
unions from the industrialized countries need to change their reluctance towards
a fundamental criticism of ongoing trade policy, be it US or European type.

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