Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

The Geoeconomic Turn in EU Trade and Investment Policy: Implications for Developing Countries

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Abstract:  The so-called geoeconomic turn in global trade policy-making has changed the context in which the European Union positions itself as a trade actor. However, there is little scholarly attention paid to how the geoeconomic turn affects the EU’s relations with developing countries. This article analyses the potential implications of new EU autonomous trade and investment instruments for developing countries, and how the EU has taken these consequences into account when designing them. We rely on a combination of desk research of official documents, trade data, and secondary literature complemented with expert interviews. We find that a trade-off between geoeconomic and development objectives is more pertinent in sustainability-related than in competitiveness- and security-oriented instruments. In these sustainability instruments, differential treatment of developing countries rarely features in the design—despite some proposals having been made. The geoeconomic turn has thus made it more difficult to align the different objectives in the EU’s trade and investment policies, and development concerns are sometimes relegated to the background.

Keywords:  development; differential treatment; European Union; geoeconomics; investment; trade



© Clara Weinhardt, Ferdi de Ville. 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.