The Influence of the EU in the World Trade System

Patrick A. Messerlin

in The Oxford Handbook on The World Trade Organization

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199586103
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

The Influence of the EU in the World Trade System

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  • International Relations
  • Political Economy



This article argues that the European Union (EU) has had, and may still have, an important influence in the world trade system – a term covering both the preferential trade agreements and the multilateral trade regime based on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO). It shows that the EU's influence in the GATT and the WTO has been quite different from that of other powers (such as the United States). The uniqueness of the EU's influence derives from the particular tools that it evolved – and continues to evolve – to facilitate its integration process. Of course, not all such strategies translate effectively at the multilateral level; the article highlights examples where the EU's experience has been useful for trade liberalization in the WTO, and others where it has been less relevant. It also discusses regulatory harmonization and regulatory competition, the mutual recognition principle, and the EU shift from mutual recognition to the mutual evaluation principle.

Keywords: European Union; world trade system; Tariffs and Trade; World Trade Organization; United States; trade liberalization; regulatory harmonization; regulatory competition; mutual recognition principle; mutual evaluation principle

Article.  9180 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Economy

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