The main argument in this book has been that trade is what actors make of it; ‘a global idea of Europe’ has been reproduced by actors and has led to an increasingly neoliberal orientation in EU trade policy. The more specific aim I set up in the introduction was to address three separate, albeit interrelated, research puzzles raised by conventional understandings of (EU) trade policy. Firstly, I was interested in why the EU adopted a preferential trade strategy at the time that it did. Secondly, I wanted to explore why this strategy was premised on trading away protection for market access and how the EU’s trade negotiators in DG Trade were able to achieve this, particularly at a time of economic crisis and against the opposition of powerful sectoral interests. Finally, I sought to explore the reasons behind the increasing entwinement of the EU’s ‘commercial’ and ‘developmental’ trade agendas. Deliberately eschewing institutionalist and purely rationalist IPE approaches, I arrived at a constructivist IPE explanation.
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