At present, the EU Institutions are confronted with two major challenges regarding foreign policy, both internal and external. Internally, established day-to-day policy-making is challenged by the changes in competencies by the Treaty of Lisbon, establishing new rooms for maneuver and informal processes between institutions and policy-makers. Externally, the shifting balances of power – with the rise of China at the forefront - demands increasing attention. This research will dissect and analyze the negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with China as a case study of how the EU deals with these challenges in its external trade and investment policy - a community competency. Instead of exclusively focusing on formal procedures and official interests around the negotiation process, this contribution will rather take the informal processes and roles of different institutions and policy-makers into account. The research, based on interviews and other material gained through extensive fieldwork in Brussels, will locate the BIT within the wider field of EU-China relations. By applying an interpretive approach to economic and trade relations it will allow for a more nuanced understanding of how policy-making processes are evolving within the European Institutions, as well as on the EU’s response to the rise of China.
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