Elaine Fahey and Isabella Mancini

“Understanding the EU as a Good Global Governance Actor: ambitions, direction and values” is the provisional title of a book project forthcoming with Edward Elgar in 2022 and edited by (Elaine Fahey City Law School) and Isabella Mancini (City Law School/ Brunel Law School).

What is ‘good global governance’?

The book project unpacks the EU’s mission to promote ‘good’ global governance, asking what its metrics of assessment are. The book proceeds on the basis that the EU has a legal obligation to promote good global governance pursuant to Article 21 Treaty on European Union (TEU).  This Treaty provision has had a patchy and incoherent legal journey, similar to the complexities associated with Article 3(5) TEU. With a view to unpacking this mission, the book explores and focuses on the deeper trade agenda where the EU emerges at the forefront of global action in areas such as climate. It focuses upon the evolution of the EU in a digital age of digital sovereignty, strategic autonomy. It also considers the new era of EU unilateral trade enforcement. Moreover, beyond these fields and developments, assesses the concept of EU actorness emerging.

The book seeks to have critical engagement with fields such as International Relations, EU Studies, and International Economic Law. It reflects upon the originality and innovation of the EU as a global actor, without losing sight of the critique of the EU being a ‘good global actor’. Because insufficient attention has been paid in the literature to the ‘good’ dimension of EU action, the book seeks to establish a future research agenda with input from a variety of scholars in the new era of a more assertive EU trade policy of EU trade law, EU digital sovereignty and EU defensive multilateralism.

Four Key Themes

The book project is based upon four key themes: the EU as a global actor in an environment of the deepening trade agenda; the era of data capture;  digital sovereignty and the institutional dynamics of the EU good actorness. In this way, the book provides insights into the analytical and normative complexities that arise at the nexus between trade and its evolving subjects and objects with which the EU engages. In a context of deeper trade agreements, and at the dawn of a new trade strategy for the EU, a number of MEPs have endorsed a vision of trade policy as “an instrument for good and promotion of social justice, environmental vision and green & digital transformation”. The book critically engages with this vision, as well as the place and meaning of values in EU external relations.

A writer’s workshop was held on 1 July 2021 in preparation for the book manuscript allowing authors to obtain feedback, to discuss their drafts and the drafts of others, and to engage in reflections on common themes and debates. An opening debate on EU values from a political science and legal perspective kicked off the day, with Kalypso Nicolaidis (EUI / University of Oxford) and Ignacio Garcia Bercero (European Commission, DG Trade) in debate with Ramses Wessel (University of Groningen). Three panels followed, each beginning with an overview paper from a general section of the book followed by 3-4 more specific papers from that session.

Good Data Governance

The first panel, on ‘Good Data Governance’, considered the new ambitions and values that the EU seeks to pursue in the regulation and governance of data flows, in the context of trade and beyond. The speakers of this session discussed divergent data privacy regulations and cultures in the present geopolitical context and ways in which the EU can be a ‘good’ global actor in data.

  • Xuechen Chen (New College of the Humanities) & Xinchuchu Gao (Kings College London), EU-China Digital Connectivity: on power and regulatory capture
  • Jorg Polakiewicz (Council of Europe), The Emperor’s New Clothes – Data Privacy and Cybersecurity from a European Perspective
  • Thomas Streinz (New York University, NYU), The Limits of the Brussels Effect in the Digital Domain
  • Svetlana Yakovleva (University of Amsterdam), EU’s policy on cross-border data flows: navigating the thin line between liberalizing digital trade, promoting rules-based multilateralism and safeguarding fundamental rights and values

Good Trade Governance

The second panel, on ‘Good Trade Governance’, focussed on the linkages and normative questions that emerge when it comes to ‘trade and’ issues, such as sustainability, labour rights, environment and gender. The contributors explored metrics of deeper trade, as well as evolving subjects and objects of ambitious trade agreements.

  • Jean-Baptiste Velut (Université Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle), Environmental allies and trade competitors: a comparative analysis of US and EU governance models for trade and climate action
  • Martin Trybus (University of Birmingham), The EU acting through Free Trade Agreements: The case of sustainability and public procurement
  • Tonia Novitz (University of Bristol), The role of the EU in developing ‘sustainable’ labour linkages in contemporary trade
  • Eva Pander Maat (City Law School), The EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism – merging ‘good’ global leadership on climate and trade?’
  • Clair Gammage (University of Bristol), The Next Normative Frontier: The EU as a Feminist Trade Actor?

The EU institutional dimension of ‘Good’ Trade Governance

In the third and final panel, on ‘The EU institutional dimension of ‘Good’ Trade Governance’, the contributors tackled the questions of how and to what extent the EU institutions contribute to the EU’s ‘good’ global actorness and its normative ambitions in its external relations.

  • Maria Garcia (University of Bath), EU as trade negotiator in the international order- Limits of the EU’s normative linkages in trade negotiations
  • Wolfgang Weiss (University of Speyer), Democratisation of good global governance: The EU’s role in the Parliamentarisation of trade policy
  • Ewa Zelazna (University of Leicester), The EU as a Good Global Actor in International Economic Relations: The Role of Parliaments
  • Eva Kassoti (TMC Asser Institute) and Graham Butler (Aarhus University), The EU Courts Approach to International Law: Towards a Conceptual Framework
  • Gesa Kübek (University of Leuphana), Dispute Settlement under EU FTAs: The Role of Sustainable Development Chapters

More information on the workshop can be found here: https://www.city.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/2021/07/understanding-the-eu-as-a-good-global-governance-actor-workshop