1st Edition

EU Trade Agreements and European Integration Commission Autonomy or Council Control?

By Markus Gastinger Copyright 2024

    EU Trade Agreements and European Integration studies 50 bilateral trade agreements negotiated by the European Commission from 1970–2008 and how they shaped European integration.

    The book argues that the Commission used these trade agreements, signed primarily with countries in Asia and Latin America, to advance European integration by ensuring that they became wider in scope and institutionally deeper by establishing ‘joint bodies’ – even in the face of resistance from member states in the Council of the European Union. Drawing upon principal–agent theory to explain Commission autonomy and Council control as well as extensive archival material and other sources across six in-depth case studies, it shows that the Commission primarily relied on asymmetric information to shape trade agreements in earlier negotiations. In later negotiations, the Commission harnessed its agendasetting power to submit agreements that the Council could only accept or reject. Overall, the book argues that these 50 trade agreements significantly impacted European integration by increasing the Commission’s external action capability, transforming it into a truly global political actor – one trade agreement at a time.

    This book will be of interest to scholars and students of European Union Studies and EU policy-making, practitioners involved in trade and external relations, and engaged citizens in Europe and abroad, particularly in India, which is prominently featured in the book.

    Introduction Chapter of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.


    1. Theorising Commission autonomy and Council control: Motive, means, and opportunity

    2. The process and patterns of trade agreements

    3. The Commercial Cooperation Agreement with India (1970–1973)

    4. The trade agreement with China (1975–1978)

    5. The Commercial and Economic Cooperation Agreement with India (1978–1981)

    6. The Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development with India (1992–1993)

    7. The Association Agreement with Chile (1998–2002)

    8. The Economic Partnership Agreement with CARIFORUM (2002–2007)

    9. Conclusion


    Markus Gastinger is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Department of Political Science at the University of Salzburg, Austria.

    “In his rich, rigorous, and readable book, Markus Gastinger explores how the European Commission, despite being the ostensible servant of the EU's member states, has both influenced and benefited from the development of the EU’s external trade policy.  He argues, and demonstrates vividly, that the Commission possessed the motivation, the means, and the opportunity to play a long game, nudging EU member states gradually toward ever wider and institutionally deeper trade agreements – and with them the Union as a whole.”

    Mark Pollack, Temple University, USA

    “EU Trade Agreements and European Integration is a must-read, exhaustive study of over 50 EU bilateral trade agreements. The Common Commercial Policy has been at the heart of European integration from the beginning, but how has the European Commission’s power to negotiate trade agreements transformed the internal EU institutional balance of power? Gastinger provides a compelling argument, based on rich empirical material, about the consequential impact of trade agreements, one at a time, on European integration, the relative power of the Commission, and the EU’s role as a global actor.”

    Sophie Meunier, Princeton University, USA

    “Gastinger’s book is a tour de force of EU trade policy and its role in the integration process. It is impressive in scope and covers trade negotiations over the entire EU history. It is informative and original. Great scholarly work.”

    Jens Blom-Hansen, Aarhus University, Denmark

    “The book is a most remarkable exploration of the role of the Commission and the Council in shaping EU trade agreements pointing out important institutional implications on the division of power in European foreign trade policy. A must read for all interested in EU policy making.”

    Adrienne Héritier, European University Institute, Italy

    “This carefully crafted volume relies on a rich empirical basis, gained from archival research, to test a novel argument on the role of the European Commission in EU trade policy. It is highly recommended reading for all those interested in better understanding the EU and its external relations.”

    Andreas Dür, University of Salzburg, Austria