Inside the European Consensus on Development and Trade: Analysing the EU's Normative Power and Policy Coherence for Development in Global Governance

Marikki Stocchetti

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaMonografia


This dissertation revolves around the enigmatic role of development policy in the European Union (EU), and its place and purpose in relation to the EU’s trade policy and to the Union at large. In particular, it looks at the preconditions that direct the EU’s work for the international development objectives of poverty eradication and sustainable development. In this regard, there has been considerable debate on policy coherence for development, or in other words, on how the EU policies in the field of trade work in favour of, or against, development goals.

In fact, the EU has made binding commitments in the EU treaties and in international conventions to advance coherence from a development perspective. However, what actually constitutes policy coherence for development in the EU, and how it is defined and promoted have largely remained unstudied to date. In addition, the question of the power to establish common standards for policy coherence deserves a closer look, both within the EU and in global governance at large.

This contribution aims to fill this research gap by tracing the key development- and trade-related processes and analysing their outcomes. These include the first joint policy statement by the European Commission, the European Council and the Parliament, entitled the European Consensus on Development (2005-), as well as those elements of the EU trade policy that were officially declared to manifest policy coherence for development. Regarding the latter, the EU position in relation to the WTO Doha Development Round, as well as the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), is a case in point. The dissertation addresses these issues in the broader historical, international and institutional settings before the Lisbon Treaty (2009), but also draws lessons for the present.

The primary data consist of official EU documents and 34 semi-structured interviews with development and trade actors involved in these processes. Drawing on two analytical frameworks – power in global governance (Barnett & Duvall 2005) and normative power Europe (Manners 2002; 2006) – I examine the formation of the policy coherence for development principle in the EU’s development- and trade-related texts, discourse production and social practices that define, naturalise and reproduce certain norms while dismissing others (cf. Fairclough 1992; 2003).

My findings indicate that the EU’s contribution to policy coherence for development is affected by intra- and inter-institutional tensions, as well as by ambiguity surrounding the role and purpose of development policy in the Union. In particular, I demonstrate how the proactive role of the Commission in the policy initiation was triggered primarily by the changes in the security and trade branches of the external relations, rather than by learning from the past development policies and its own goal attainment. Although these linkages can be seen as a strategic choice to improve the institutional position of European Community development policy both within the Commission as well as between the Commission and the Council, this choice compromised the development policy content. This tendency is particularly clear in the gradually narrowed, administratively and technically oriented approach to policy coherence for development.

In relation to trade, policy coherence was limited mainly to the EU market access proposals for the Least Developed Countries. This aspect of trade liberalisation formed the core for both the international and EU consensus on trade and development. In turn, the reciprocal liberalisation of developing country markets under the Economic Partnership Agreements was initially much weaker. This changed with the dominant role and interests of DG Trade, which adopted the development policy discourse and influenced the Commission policy on development and trade. Consequently, the reciprocal free trade format and the European Commission’s interpretation of international trade law (i.e. GATT Article XXIV) also became the official understanding of policy coherence for development in the EU.

As a result, the EU’s model for policy coherence is inclined towards trade policy coherence and in favour of the overall consistency of the Union, rather than policy coherence for development. Therefore, the EU’s normative model risks being inadequate when it comes to safeguarding and advancing development policy goals.
Painoksen ISBN978-952-10-9068-4
Sähköinen ISBN978-952-10-9069-1
TilaJulkaistu - 2013
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Tohtorinväitöskirja (monografia)


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