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Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies - European University Institute

New ERC project on plurilateral trade cooperation led by Bernard Hoekman

Bernard Hoekman, leading the Global Economics research area at the Robert Schuman Centre, has been awarded an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for his project 'Plurilateral Integration and Noneconomic Objectives' (PIANO).

11 April 2024 | Award - Research

Bernard Hoekman PIANO Project

On 11 April 2024, the European Research Council announced the winners of its 2023 Advanced Grants competition. Among the proposals selected for funding is EUI Professor Bernard Hoekamn's five-year project ‘Plurilateral Integration and Noneconomic Objectives’ (PIANO), which will revisit the centrality of trade agreements as a mechanism for international cooperation.

In recent times, international trade and investment interventions have been increasingly driven by noneconomic objectives such as combating climate change, ensuring national security, safeguarding societal values, and economic competitiveness considerations. Traditional trade agreements that aim to reduce associated competitiveness spillovers are often limited by geopolitical and geoeconomic rivalries. As a result, states have begun to explore cooperation on a smaller group, 'plurilateral', basis. These agreements differ from traditional trade agreements by concentrating on specific policy areas and potentially being open to multiple countries.

Despite the growing relevance of plurilateral agreements, there has been limited research on understanding their design, operation, impacts, and political economy. The ‘PIANO’ project seeks to address this gap by conducting conceptual and empirical analysis of the incentives and conditions for plurilateral cooperation on trade, investment, and regulatory policies. The project will include in-depth case studies of plurilateral initiatives and survey-based analysis of the preferences of key actors and stakeholders for subject-specific plurilateral agreements over deep trade agreements.

Bernard Hoekman commented on the project, saying, "This project builds on several strands of research we have been pursuing on trade governance and economic development in the Global Governance Programme of the Robert Schuman Centre. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the potential for plurilateral agreements to sustain and enhance international cooperation."

The ‘PIANO’ project, starting in September 2024, is expected to significantly contribute to the field of international trade and cooperation by shedding light on the dynamics and potential of plurilateral agreements in the current geopolitical and geoeconomic landscape.

Bernard Hoekman is Director of Global Economics at the Global Governance Programme of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, EUI. Prior positions include Director of the International Trade Department and Research Manager in the Development Research Group of the World Bank. He has been an economist in the GATT Secretariat and held visiting positions at SciencesPo, Paris.

Last update: 11 April 2024

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