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A New Challenge for the European Parliament in Trade Policy: Transforming power into influence

CEPS Conference Room
1, Place du Congrès 1000 Brussels
CEPS Event

A New Challenge for the European Parliament in Trade Policy: Transforming power into influence


In cooperation with the Centre for European Union Studies at the University of Ghent.

Participation in this meeting is exceptionally free of charge. A sandwich lunch will be served before the event, from 12.30 onwards.

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament (EP) has become fully engaged in making EU trade policy as a co-legislator, endowed with the authority to reject any trade agreement of which it does not approve. It has already shown its teeth in this policy area, which is becoming at the same time more politicised and of increasing importance for the EU. The Parliament’s highly publicized rejection of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is only the most visible demonstration of its exercising its new powers. Another was the EP’s success in establishing a de facto mandate for the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US.

The past term, however, has served as an exploratory phase in which the EP, in particular its International Trade Committee, the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and interest groups have gradually learned to deal with the new balance of power. The EP is now recognised as an important player in EU trade policy. Nevertheless, the challenge for the next EP, to be elected this May, is to turn its acquired legal and political powers in trade policy into real influence, i.e. determining the actual content of EU trade policy.

This challenge raises several important questions which will be explored, inter alia, at the CEPS lunch debate:

  • Will the EP manage to significantly influence trade negotiations such as the TTIP or the agreements with India, Japan and African countries?
  • Taking into account its political composition following the elections, can we expect the EP to steer EU trade policy into a more protectionist or free trade-oriented direction? And will human rights and sustainable development play an important role?
  • Will the new powers of the EP strengthen or weaken the Commission as the executive agent in EU trade policy, both vis-à-vis the member states in the Council and third countries?
  • And finally, what are the implications of the EP’s new powers for interest groups, for instance in terms of lobbying strategies?