Trade policy lobbying in the European Union: Who captures whom?
What role do firms play in the making of EU trade policy? This article surveys the policy domain and lays out the instruments firms can employ to influence decisions on trade. It underlines that European trade policy is characterized by a high degree of institutional complexity, which firms have to manage in order to be successful. In particular, the European Commission works intensively to solicit business input in order to gain bargaining leverage vis-à-vis third countries and the EU member states. This reverse lobbying creates a two-channel logic of trade policy lobbying in the EU. Corporate actors have a very good chance of working closely with the European Commission if they can propose pan-European trade policy solutions. This can be either trade liberalization or EU-wide regulatory restrictions on trade. Demands for traditional protectionist measures, especially those that reveal national interest divergences, are difficult to defend at the supranational level. Protectionist lobbying therefore goes through the national route, with corporate actors working to block liberalization by affecting the consensus in the Council of Ministers. The chapter illustrates this two-channel logic by studying business-government interactions in agricultural trade, textiles and clothing, financial services, and telecommunication services.
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