The Common Trade Policy of the European Union as an Example of a Supranational Approach Towards Integration

  • Jan Hřích


One of the so-called common policies of the European Community (apart from the common agricultural and common transport policy) is the Common (external) Trade Policy. This is a sphere of activities of the Community that is entirely under the jurisdiction of the European Community bodies (mainly the Council and the Commission). The Council makes decisions on the basis of a qualified majority and relatively broad scope in implementing this policy is given to the autonomous activities of the Commission.
The Common Trade Policy constitutes one of the primary spheres in a supranational approach towards integration both from the historical point of view (it was codified in the original Rome Treaty of 1957: it began to be implemented - albeit with certain reservations - after the end of the twelve-year transitional period, that is to say, as of the early 1970s), as well as in the light of the logic of the entire integration process. But this does not apply to certain marginal spheres of the trade policy (for example, to promoting exports) where member states retain most of their jurisdiction, irrespective of whether the Treaty on the Establishment of the European Community includes also its export policy under the heading of a Common Trade Policy.
The essay aims at giving a more detailed account of the European Community Common Trade Policy and its instruments. It points out that the possibility of supranational decision-making within the integration association represents a significant prerequisite for an effective Common Trade Policy, which, in turn, is the condition of a functional Customs Union. It turns its attention to the changes which the Nice Treaty (not yet ratified) introduces in the contractual arrangement of the Common Trade Policy. These changes somewhat complicate the contractual arrangement, which is due mainly to the fact that the member states have not been willing to agree to an automatic enlargement by certain regions on a supranational basis which are closely connected with trade in commodities; the importance of this trade has been growing lately (especially trade in services and so-called trade aspects of the rights of intellectual property). However, a more accurate definition of the jurisdiction of certain sensitive spheres should contribute to a more effective functioning of the Common Trade Policy, not burdened by disputes of authority between the European Community bodies and member states.

Author Biography

Jan Hřích



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