Who speaks for Europe? The delegation of trade authority in the EU

Sophie Meunier, Kalypso Nicolaidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

191 Scopus citations


Although the Member States of the European Union (EU) have long since relinquished their power to act as autonomous actors in international trade negotiations, they have now chosen to regain some of their lost trade sovereignty. Neither the European Court of Justice's (ECJ's) 1994 opinion, nor the 1997 reform of the trade policy process at Amsterdam delegated full negotiating authority to the Commission over the 'new trade issues' of services and intellectual property. Instead, Member States settled on a hybrid form of decision-making to enable ad hoc rather than structural delegation of competence. Was this a rollback of EU competence? If so, why has it occurred in the EU's oldest and most successfully integrated, policy sector? A shift in the perceived trade-off between economic interests and ideological bias on the part of key Member States can explain such a change. This article also explores the consequences for the future conduct of the EU's trade policy and its influence in shaping the world political economy, as well as for the evolving pattern of federal allocation of jurisdiction in the EU.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-501
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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