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Research project

RESPECT - Realising Europe’s soft power in external cooperation and trade

How can the EU’s soft power better achieve the goals set by the Lisbon Treaty and EU trade and development strategy? The project analysed the economic drivers and the effects of trade on Non-Trade Policy Objectives for issues such as labour standards, political and civil rights and environmental protection.

This project has received funding from the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme under the grant agreement number 770680

Seismic changes in global geopolitics, the rapid rise of global production networks, increasing disputes surrounding trade integration initiatives and challenges to ensuring coherence across policy initiatives at EU and Member State level have made the pursuit of EU external policy objectives more complex. The overarching goal of RESPECT was to identify options and opportunities for better realising the EU’s soft power in achieving its external policy objectives. It did so through rigorous empirical analysis of the effects of trade and trade policy on nontrade policy objectives (NTPOs) and the development of conceptual frameworks to inform the design of a more coherent external policy mix.

Four broad objectives were pursued: 

  • documenting the prevailing situation – the set of EU and Member State policies that together characterize the EU’s trade and investment-related policy regime;
  • understanding the factors that influence the ability of different constellations of EU external policies to attain both trade goals and NTPOs;
  • determining success factors for effective EU external policies;
  • developing practical, operationally feasible recommendations to redesign trade policy to promote better overall EU external policy objectives while recognising the political economy incentives confronting key actors in and outside the EU.

The project centred on in-depth, multi-disciplinary analyses based on methodological triangulation of the impacts of EU trade-related policies, broadly defined to include the investment policies and economic diplomacy activities of Member States. Pathways to impact centre on close involvement of policymakers responsible for – and affected by – EU trade in all stages of the project, a focus on the design of institutional arrangements to enhance the coherence of EU external policies, and structured deliberation with key EU institutions, including the European Parliament and stakeholder groups in and outside the EU.

The team

Group members

External Partners

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