Do Supranationalist Approaches Offer a Better Explanation of Growing European Cooperation in Trade in Services that Liberal Intergovernmentalist Approaches?

Xinchuchu Gao

Since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the Common Commercial Policy (CCP) has been an exclusive competence of the European Economic Community (EEC). This means that it is the exclusive responsibility of the EU to govern trade issues falling within the scope of the CCP. The Treaty of Rome did not precisely define the scope of the CCP; instead it provided an indicative list of the policy areas. Examples given in the Treaty of Rome reflected the fact that trade in goods was the main form of international economic exchange.Since the 1970s, however, the nature of international economic exchange has changed dramatically. The appearance of new trade issues started to call into question the Commission's authority to govern them. During the following decades, a struggle has developed between member states and the European Commission regarding the question of who negotiates on trade in services.Member states consistently tried to block the extension of the EU's legal competences to trade in services. As a result, prior to the Treaty of Lisbon, the legal scope of the EU's CCP had changed very little since the 1957 Treaty of Rome.Despite the limited modifications to treaty regulations concerning trade in services prior to the Lisbon Treaty, member state governments readily cooperated and temporarily empowered the European Commission to participate in international negotiations on trade in services.The preceding discussion shows that there is a stark contrast between the relatively static EU treaty regulations governing trade in services and growing European cooperation in this policy domain. A question thus arises: why did member states readily cooperate on international negotiations on trade in services even when this policy domain was not covered by the EU's exclusive competence? I am going to test two competing hypotheses derived from liberal intergovernmentalism and supranationalism.

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