The EU’s trade relationship with North America represents only one of its many trade engagements in the world. The EU is pursuing or implementing deals with many other trade partners. Those partners vary in economic importance, political orientation, regulatory approaches, geopolitical power, and interests. The deals, in turn, vary in their extent, substance, objectives, and institutional features. A proper understanding of the transatlantic relationship requires an appreciation of the broader EU trade context. This is so for at least two reasons.
First, what the EU does in the rest of the world influences the transatlantic relationship. The EU’s objectives and what it deems possible or desirable in relation to North America reflect, in part, its activities with actors elsewhere. For instance, a deepening of the EU-China trade has the potential to diminish EU interest in making progress on the TTIP. The strained relations between the EU and Russia might push the EU to find North American natural resources more attractive. Of course, causality is not unidirectional: what the US or Canada do in the world affects the transatlantic relations and the EU’s relationship with other parties. Examples would include US-China relations or US extraterritorial sanctions applied on Iran and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Second, the complex nature of the transatlantic trade relationship – with CETA completed after considerable turmoil, and TTIP still on hold – results in part from the EU’s general commitment to the ‘new generation’ of trade agreements. These emphasize regulatory standardization in ways that previous initiatives (and the WTO system more broadly) did not. Such standardization has generated serious opposition – from the public, industry, labor, and other actors. Accordingly, much can be gained by situating the problems of TTIP and CETA in the broader context of the EU’s various approaches to standardization worldwide.
This module discusses the following issues:
- First, the EU’s relationship with major trade actors, especially illiberal ones such as China and Russia: how has this relationship affected the transatlantic trade relationship?
- Second, the application of US extraterritorial sanctions such as those on Iran and the Nord Stream 2 pipeline: how have these sanctions affected the transatlantic trade relationship?
- Third, the EU’s pursuit of regulatory standardization with partners across the world (Japan, South Korea, Mercosur, etc.): what variations exist, what factors drive those variations, and how do CETA and TTIP fit into the broader puzzle?
- Standardizing the World
Bates College, May 2022