01 Feb 2012, Journal of Common Market Studies

European Union Meets South Korea: Bureaucratic Interests, Exporter Discrimination and the Negotiations of Trade Agreements

by Manfred Elsig and Cédric Dupont, World Trade Institute

Abstract

Who in the European Union drives the process of pursuing bilateral trade negotiations? In contrast to societal explanations, this article develops a novel argument as to how the European Commission manages the process and uses its position in strategic ways to pursue its interests. Rooted in principal–agent theory, the article discusses agent preferences and theorizes the conditions under which the agent sets specific focal points and interacts strategically with principals and third parties. The argument is discussed with case study evidence drawn from the first trade agreement concluded and ratified since the EU Commission announced its new strategy in 2006: the EU–South Korea trade agreement.

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