This module seeks to improve scholarly and policy-related knowledge about the reasons why some trade agreements – but not others – become politically contentious. Illustratively, the negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the United States and the European Union (EU) received much attention by interest groups, political parties, and citizens. The opposition to the planned agreement in some European countries contributed to its demise. By contrast, the negotiations for an agreement between the EU and Japan never arose much interest beyond a narrow circle.

The module discusses:

  • First, how politicization patterns can be measured, and which indicators help to capture the extent of politicization of a specific trade agreement.
  • Second, which factors prove relevant to explain variation in politicization across trade agreements. For example, politicization may mainly be a function of characteristics of the partner country/countries with which the EU is negotiating (anti-Americanism or fear of regulatory downgrading driving the politicization of TTIP) or of the contents of the negotiations (scope and depth of the regulatory agenda), or the different opportunity structures and varieties of capitalism arrangements in different EU member states.
  • Third, under which circumstances politicization affects trade policy. The underlying question here is whether politicization undermines the possibility for a pro-active European trade policy or whether it just changes the way trade negotiations have to be carried out (e.g. increase the transparency of the negotiations; separate agreements on exclusive EU competences from mixed, EU & member state competences).

By addressing these issues, the module provides important conceptual foundations for the other network themes, which examine aspects of trade policy affected to various degrees by politicization.

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With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union