Human Rights Conditionality in European Union Trade Negotiations: the Case of the EU–Singapore FTA

  • Citation: McKenzie, Lachlan, and Katharina L. Meissner. “Human Rights Conditionality in European Union Trade Negotiations: the Case of the EU–Singapore FTA.” Journal of Common Market Studies, 2016.
    • Topics:
    • Business and Trade
    • Human Rights
    • Keywords:
    • Western Europe
    • South-East Asia
    • Singapore
    • EU
    • human rights conditionality
    • EU trade policy

Trade policy is among the EU’s most significant capabilities in promoting values including human rights. Yet trade policy and the EU’s values-based foreign policy are often in tension. Scholarship on the social dimension of trade policy has emphasized the tension between values and the EU’s commercial interests. Human rights and conditionality clauses have not been the focus of analysis, yet conditionality is one of the EU’s most visible links between the trade agenda and its values-based foreign policy. Analyzing the EU’s decision-making in negotiating human rights conditionality, this paper employs the EU–Singapore free trade agreement and its negotiation as an in-depth single case study. The tension between commercial interests and values results in decision-makers promoting incoherent interests. We argue that organizationally defined preferences and issue salience circumscribed the Parliament’s impact on decision-making, resulting in concessions on human rights conditionality with Singapore.

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