21 May 2014

The European Parliament’s New Role in Trade Policy: Turning power into impact

Lore Van den Putte / Ferdi De Ville / Jan Orbie

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The power of the European Parliament in EU trade policy has increased significantly with the Lisbon Treaty. Even though it had already acquired a greater informal role, the codification of its involvement enables the EP to have a stronger say in trade policy. Against the background of increased legal competences granted by the Treaty of Lisbon to the European Parliament in EU trade policy, this CEPS Special Report addresses two important questions. The first concerns the extent to which the EP’s power in trade policy has increased: Has the EP effectively played a bigger role since the end of 2009? The second relates to the substance of the EP’s trade policy preferences: Does the EP attempt to push EU trade relations into a more or less normative and/or protectionist direction? Its main argument is that the Lisbon Treaty not only heralds a major leap forward in legal terms, but that the current EP legislature has also managed to increase its political clout in trade policy-making. Nevertheless, a major challenge for the new EP legislature 2014-2019 will be to turn this into effective influence.

Lore Van den Putte is a PhD candidate at the Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University; Ferdi De Ville is Assistant Professor at the Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University; and Jan Orbie is Professor at and director of the Centre for EU Studies, Ghent University.