This article analyses whether the shift in EU trade strategy in the 21st century towards bilateralism is in conflict with its objective of promoting effective multilateralism. It demonstrates that the emergence of new powers in the trade sphere has produced a breach in the historical structure of international trade that puts the World Trade Organization’s capacity to achieve its mission of trade liberalisation at risk. Within this framework, EU bilateralism may be read differently depending on how the EU’s attitude to the BIC (Brazil, India, China) as new powers in the field of trade is interpreted. If it tends towards accommodation, its bilateralism may be read in a multilateralist light.
Key words: EU, common trade policy, WTO, multilateralism, bilateralism
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