EU Trade Policy Conference

International Conference:

„EU Trade Policy at the Crossroads: between Economic Liberalism and Democratic Challenges”

International trade, and in particular TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Partnership agreement between the EU and the US, has recently become a hotly debated policy field in the EU, juxtaposing a coalition of EU institutions and the corporate sector against a large coalition of civil society organisations. TTIP stands out as the prime example of new generation free trade agreements aiming at deep economic integration. Besides tariff elimination, its primary aim is to focus on a very comprehensive set of regulatory issues and rules, with a view to dismantling and harmonizing these in areas such as agriculture, food safety, product and technical standards, sectoral regulations in services, the protection of intellectual property rights, and government procurement. In addition, investment liberalization and protection are central issues, with the proposed investor-to-state-dispute-settlement mechanism (ISDS) being particularly controversial.

The debate on TTIP has also triggered a renewed academic interest on trade issues. The academic discourse is characterized by a dual challenge: firstly, there exists a lack of knowledge about the likely impacts of the new trade agreements upon the well-being of EU societies. Many of the impacts of regulatory change on e.g. food safety, consumer protection, the natural environment or working conditions are not well- known. Secondly, there exists no alternative vision of what the role and contribution of international trade to social welfare in the current environment of multiple crises would possibly entail, and what kind of changes to the politics of EU trade would be needed.

Upon this basis, the conference wants to contribute to the trade policy debate by promoting (i) a trans- and interdisciplinary analysis of the current trade regime and policies in the EU and its likely economic, social and political impacts, and by facilitating (ii) a multi-stakeholder debate on alternative conceptualizations of trade and trade policy in the EU.

Thus, contributions from a variety of academic disciplines, such as e.g. economics, political science, law and sociology are encouraged. Similarly, the conference is open to a variety of theoretical and normative positions in the social sciences. In addition, the conference seeks to bring together researchers from academic as well as other research organizations with policy-makers and political activists from political organizations, NGOs and social movements.

The conference is organized by ÖFSE – Austrian Foundation for Development Research, in cooperation with the European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy and the EuroMemorandum Group.