The Trade-Climate Nexus: Assessing the European Union’s Institutionalist Approach

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Series Details Volume 19, Number 4
Publication Date November 2019
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The European Union (EU) is considered a global leader both in trade and climate policies. Nonetheless, trade liberalisation has been widely criticised for its negative effects on the environment and for directly contributing to the rising levels of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

This paper addresses the trade-climate nexus by assessing to what extent the EU is effectively integrating its environmental objectives within its trade policies. First, the legal spaces for the EU’s action in this policy nexus are identified. Second, the analysis looks into how effectively the EU is achieving its own set of objectives for trade and climate. The assessment draws on an innovative analytical matrix examining four TradeClimate Agenda items: (i) international competitiveness, (ii) climate-friendly goods and services, (iii) international aviation and maritime shipping, and (iv) product labelling and standards.

The paper then evaluates to what extent the externalisation mechanisms of Manners’ ‘Normative Power Europe’ and Damro’s ‘Market Power Europe’ are deployed in order to achieve the above objectives. The findings show that the EU’s performance in the effective management of the nexus is overall moderate to weak.

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