Nested and overlapping regimes in the transatlantic banana trade dispute

Karen J. Alter, Sophie Meunier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


The decade-long transatlantic banana dispute was not a traditional trade conflict stemming from antagonistic producers' interests. Instead, this article argues that the banana dispute is one of the most complex illustrations of the legal and political difficulties created by the nesting and overlapping of international institutions and commitments. The contested Europe-wide banana policy was an artifact of nesting - the fruit of efforts to reconcile the single market with Lomé obligations which then ran afoul of WTO rules. Using counter-factual analysis, this article explores how the nesting of international commitments contributed to creating the dispute, provided forum shopping opportunities which themselves complicated the options of decision-makers, and hindered resolution of what would otherwise be a pretty straightforward trade dispute. We then draw out implications from this case for the EU, an institution increasingly nested within multilateral mechanisms, and for the issue of the nesting of international institutions in general.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-382
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


  • Bananas
  • European Union
  • Institutions
  • Nesting
  • Trade
  • WTO


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