Systemic Drivers of Global Europe: How changes in the international political economy caused fundamental shifts in EU Trade Policy

Marc Woodall

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis uses supplementing theories from International Political Economy, Power Theory and Regionalism to explain how changes in the EU’s external environment motivated it to alter its trade policy as seen in its latest trade strategy, Global Europe. These external changes are known as systemic drivers, the most significant of which being: the changing economic geography of global production, the increasing influence of emerging powers in global governance and a more aggressive U.S. trade policy. In order to protect and promote its economic interests, the EU has decided to react to these drivers by changing its trade policy in a number of significant ways. It no longer provides non-reciprocal trade preferences to its former colonies, it uses bilateral trade negotiations as its main trade policy tool, it has increased its focus on East Asia, and all trading agreements now pursue the same goals of extensive liberalization of services markets and strengthened protection for European investors and intellectual property. These changes are implemented in order for the EU to maintain its dominant position in the global economy in the face of increasing competition for power and markets from new emerging economies and the U.S. By securing preferential conditions for its business in all its trading agreements, the EU hopes to secure not only market access, but the spread of regulatory frameworks which give European businesses preferential conditions and provide them with first mover privileges that can be used to secure a position of comparative advantage in the global economy.

EducationsGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date9 Apr 2013
SupervisorsLindsay Whitfield


  • EU
  • regionalism
  • international political economy
  • trade policy