Geopoliticization of trade - A new rationale behind the EU’s China policy?

01 November 2021 → Ongoing
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • European union politics
    • International politics
    • Political economy
EU Trade Geopolitics
Project description

Since the adoption of the EU Global Strategy of 2016, most authors agree that the EU has reached a turning point, moving toward a geopolitical union. Indeed, the mission statement of the European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen in 2019 to lead a ‘geopolitical commission’ seems to affirm this perception of a pragmatic shift in the EU's external posture. This recent trend has opened up a significant debate within academic and policy circles on whether the 'geopolitical turn' has also affected the EU trade policy, creating a 'geopoliticization' of EU trade. Current uncertainty around this question is further amplified by the ambiguity and underdefined nature of the 'geopoliticization' concept. Additionally, EU relations with China, its largest trading partner and the most-likely case of a potential 'geopoliticization' of trade, remain understudied from a geopolitical perspective. Therefore, the central research question of this dissertation reads: To what extent and how does the 'geopoliticization of trade' manifest itself in EU-China relations? My PhD will provide a comprehensive answer to this question by examining three policy levels (unilateral, bilateral and multilateral) and three theoretical dimensions (interests, institutions and ideas) of EU trade policy. Methodologically, I will conduct a directed content analysis on a comprehensive dataset of the EU's trade policy toward China from 2015 until 2022.