The Future of International Economic Law: A Research Agenda

EUI Working Papers LAW No. 2010/06

40 Pages Posted: 28 Oct 2010

See all articles by Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW)

Date Written: June 1, 2010


This final chapter draws conclusions from the second edition of Constitutionalism, Multilevel Trade Governance and International Economic Law by discussing the diverse conceptions of international economic regulation presented by Profs. Joerges, Stewart, Cottier and other contributors to this book. Section I begins with methodological questions of conceptualizing and analyzing international economic law (IEL). Section II discusses private ‘conflicts law approaches’ and criticizes their inadequate criteria for identifying under which conditions public international law ‘deserves recognition’. Section III gives an overview of the diverse ‘global administrative law’ (GAL) approaches and criticizes their often inadequate methodologies for determining ‘law’ as well as their neglect of constitutional rights. Section IV discusses the various ‘multilevel constitutional’ approaches to analyzing IEL and their foundation in ‘constitutional pluralism’. Section V suggests that collective supply of ‘global public goods’ – like protection of human rights, a mutually beneficial world trading system, international rule of law and prevention of climate change – requires more systematic, legal analysis of the collective action problems and of the interrelationships among national and international public goods. The various private and public, constitutional, administrative, international and cosmopolitan conceptions of international economic regulation complement each other without addressing the most important challenge of IEL in the 21st century, i.e. how global public goods can be collectively protected more effectively. Section VI concludes that – in citizen-driven areas like IEL and environmental pollution - the ‘collective action problems’ impeding effective protection of ‘global public goods’ require strengthening the ‘cosmoplitan’, rights-based foundations of IEL. The chapter identifies research questions meriting further research in order to make IEL a more effective instrument for promoting and protecting not only economic and human welfare, but also human rights, international rule of law and other international public goods beneficial for all human beings. My own ‘cosmopolitan propositions’ for addressing some of the regulatory problems are summarized in Tables 1 to 4 and explained in more detail in another, forthcoming monograph.

Keywords: conflicts law, constitutional law, international economic law, global administrative law

Suggested Citation

Petersmann, Ernst-Ulrich, The Future of International Economic Law: A Research Agenda (June 1, 2010). EUI Working Papers LAW No. 2010/06, Available at SSRN: or

Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann (Contact Author)

European University Institute - Department of Law (LAW) ( email )

Via Bolognese 156 (Villa Salviati)
50-139 Firenze

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