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External Economic Relations


Course content subject to change

Admission requirements

Admission to the Master International Relations, track European Union Studies.


In the 2017 course on EU External Economic Relations we will deal extensively with the developments in EU trade policy. We will start considering the place of the EU in world trade, its free trade agenda and its position on global markets.
We will address the role of global supply chains and the costs and benefits of globalization. Next we will consider the developments of EU Commercial Policy. We will deal with the exclusive competence of EU commercial policy and the Commission’s role as EU’s trade negotiator. We will analyse EU’s external trade policy and its multiple preferential trade agreements all over the world. Particular emphasis will be given to the major changes in both autonomous and conventional trade policy following the Lisbon Treaty. Finally we will look into the most recent developments (Global Europe 2006/Trade For All) and the growing opposition to the trade agenda (CETA/TTIP).
For several decades the main emphasis of the EU was on the multilateral trade agenda. We will analyse the rules based multilateral trading system and its basic principles from the GATT years to the WTO era, including the failure of the Doha Round and beyond.
While the basic principles of the WTO continue to be at the heart of the world trading system we have seen a proliferation of preferential trade agreements (custom unions/FTA’s) which constitute an exception to the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) principle. Over the years the EU has concluded preferential trade agreements with over 50 regions and countries in the world.
We will analyse this development and its impact on trade liberalization, consider some recent FTA’s (Korea/Canada) and look at the agenda for ongoing trade and investment agreements.
Recently so called mega-regional preferential trade agreements as TPP and TTIP have taken
centerstage and have been subject of growing opposition. TPP is dead but another mega-regional trade agreement with China -and without the US- in the lead may take its place: Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). TTIP is put on hold; we will analyse its content and adress the most contentious issues.
Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) has
been at the heart of the opposition to both CETA and TTIP. We will look at the developments of ISDS over the last decennia and at the new generation of Investment Protection Agreements with particular emphasis on the Investment Court System which was included in CETA to adress the concerns in relation to the existing Arbitration Tribunals.
BREXIT will have major consequences for the trade relations between the UK and EU 27. We will adress the negotiating process (art.50 TEU) and consider the different scenario’s for future relations and their implications.

Course objectives

The aim of the course is to introduce the students to the EU external trade policy and its wider context. The students will acquire a good understanding of the basic concepts of the EU external trade policy, of the international economic and policy environment in which it is embedded, and of its workings in practice.
Furthermore, students will gain experience of studying one specific trade policy issue more in depth in the framework of their presentation and essay. This knowledge should help qualify them for a job e.g. in internationally oriented business or business organisations, the national administration or an international organisation.


See the website.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load for the course: 5 EC is 140 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending seminars (attendance is compulsory): 4 hours per week x 6 weeks = 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature and preparation for the lectures: 6 hours per week x 6 = 36 hours

  • Preparation for the paper: 80 hours

Assessment method

  • Presentation 20%

  • Class participation 20%

  • Paper 60%
    The final paper will only be marked if the student has attended the seminars.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Retake paper: resubmit three weeks after the grade has been made known. In order to be eligible for the retake paper, students have to have failed the course.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Yes, see Blackboard.

Reading list

A reading list will be provided before the start of the course.


Via uSis.

Contact information