EU State Aid Policy and the Politics of External Trade Relations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

European Union (EU) state aid policy has an oft-overlooked but politically-charged external dimension that is most clearly witnessed in the linkage with external trade relations. The article seeks to illuminate the issues and potential problems raised by this state aid-trade linkage. When this linkage is made, the EU engages in an array of complex international interactions through which it may pursue two politically-contentious procedures: countervailing duties or dispute settlement. The article argues that an understanding of the EU’s role in these complex interactions must take into account the Union’s institutional landscape and the competing preferences of different private interests. When deciding to impose countervailing duties against foreign state aids (subsidies), private interests play a significant role in initiating investigations and can use their access to EU institutions to encourage the imposition of such measures. While a variety of factors help to explain why the EU prefers pursuing countervailing duties, the Union also actively uses the World Trade Organization’s formal dispute settlement mechanism. Under this alternative, private interests again play an important role, pursuing varying strategies depending on their preferences. The most important determinant of a firm’s preference to pursue countervailing duties or the dispute settlement mechanism appears to be the extent to which the firm is concerned with restoring competition in their home market or with restoring competition in multiple/global markets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Industry, Competition and Trade
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • countervailing measures
  • European Union
  • state aid
  • subsidies
  • World Trade Organization


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