The international trade system that was established after the Second World War seemed, until recently, to continue its expansionary growth. The latest step in this development namely the move towards "mega-regional trade agreements" -- the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the US an 11 Pacific states - was widely perceived as logical and quasi irresistible. The MPP failed, the future of TTIP is uncertain at best, the CETA survived only after significant modifications through which the contracting parties responded to a host of objections from member states of the EU and civil society.
Objections against TTIP and CETA were primarily motivated by regulatory concerns for health and safety, environmental protection. These agreements provided for substantial constraints on the discretionary policy space while and sought to establish governance arrangements between the signatories. This was by no means entirely new; however, it meant a significant deepening of the tensions between the political autonomy of states and their involvement in international trade. The final crisis of the TTIP and the failure the TPP, however, were provoked by objections of the new American administration against the economic paradigm, which seemed so firmly established in principle, namely the belief in the benefits of free international trade and the destructive effects of protectionism.
The focus of the course will be on the tensions between political autonomy and commitments to free international trade in the spheres of "social regulation", understood as a protection of consumer health and safety and environmental concerns. This is not to downplay the economic dimensions of pertinent conflicts. Regulatory concerns and economic interests are always intertwined. The quest for "fair" labour standards, safety at work and the debate on "social dumping" illustrate this interdependence. The focus on regulatory politics is the better eye-opener for a host of transnational and transdisciplinary key concepts and debates.
This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.