Working Beyond the Border? A New Research Agenda for the Evaluation of Labour Standards in EU Trade Agreements

17 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2014 Last revised: 17 Jun 2014

See all articles by Liam Campling

Liam Campling

Queen Mary, University of London

James Harrison

University of Warwick - School of Law

Ben Richardson

University of Warwick

Adrian Smith

Queen Mary, University of London

Date Written: April 4, 2014

Abstract

The European Union has approximately 50 bilateral trade agreements in place with partners across the world, and more than 20 more that are at various stages of the negotiating process. These trading arrangements comprise an ever-increasing amount of the EU’s trade with partner countries – over half its total external trade. At the same time, the EU has also embraced a more ambitious kind of agreement which has moved far beyond the reduction of tariff barriers and has involved the inclusion of a wider range of regulatory measures. In its recent trade agreements, the EU has included a ‘Trade and Sustainable Development’ chapter, which has, among other things, contained obligations in relation to labour standards. These labour standards provisions follow a common model (with limited variations) and adopt an approach which has been described as ‘promotional’ rather than ‘conditional’.

This paper examines the progressive possibilities and potential limitations of the EU’s new provisions on labour standards, in the context of the broader debate about the purpose and efficacy of labour and trade linkage. The review also highlights the limited empirical research on the impact of labour standards ‘on the ground’ in different countries with respect to different types of agreements, and why this is problematic. The paper then makes proposals for a research agenda that can fill this gap, involving fieldwork in countries now subject to this new breed of EU bilateralism, thus exploring externalisation from the outside-in.

Keywords: Key Words: Trade agreement, labour standards, European Union, sustainable development, normative power, soft law

Suggested Citation

Campling, Liam and Harrison, James and Richardson, Ben and Smith, Adrian, Working Beyond the Border? A New Research Agenda for the Evaluation of Labour Standards in EU Trade Agreements (April 4, 2014). Warwick School of Law Research Paper No. 2014/03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2420455

Liam Campling

Queen Mary, University of London ( email )

School of Business & Managment
Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.busman.qmul.ac.uk/staff/camplingl.html

James Harrison (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - School of Law ( email )

Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry CV4 7AL, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
02476 523170 (Phone)
02476 524105 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/staff/academic/harrison

Ben Richardson

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Adrian Smith

Queen Mary, University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom

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