Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Multilevel Trade Policy in the Joint‐Decision Trap? The Case of CETA

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Abstract:  Wallonia’s refusal to ratify CETA in October 2016 suggests that multilevel trade politics may increasingly be subject to the pitfalls of joint decision-making, or even a joint-decision trap. This article, however, presents a more nuanced perspective that builds on a comparative analysis of intergovernmental configurations that underpinned constituent units’ participation in CETA in the four formal federations Canada, Belgium, Germany, and Austria. It shows, firstly, that joint decision-making is only one mode of intergovernmental trade policy coordination that needs to be distinguished from others. Second, joint decision-making rarely leads to a joint decision trap as actors seek to bypass the institutional constraints entailed in this mode of intergovernmental coordination. The study has implications beyond the field of trade policy as it contributes to the comparative analysis of intergovernmental relations in Canada and Europe.

Keywords:  Canada; CETA; EU; federalism; intergovernmental relations; joint decision‐making; trade policy



© Jörg Broschek. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.