Global Economy, September, 2007
Pursuing Geopolitical Stability through Interregional Trade: The EU's Motives for Negotiating with the Gulf Cooperation Council
The European Union's (EU) drawn-out trade negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) could result in the first region-to-region free trade agreement. The EU's motives for advancing interregional negotiations with the GCC have not been primarily focused on creating trade, which is argued to be relatively limited for the EU. Instead, the EU's motives for continuing negotiations with the GCC are explained by the EU's geopolitical and ideational interests and to a lesser extent by interest group influences. We do not find, however, strong evidence of EU bureaucratic motives to negotiate with the GCC. Based on these findings, this paper suggests that the recent reawakening of EU-GCC negotiations can be explained by the relative increase in the geopolitical importance of the Gulf.
The paper shows that WTO decision-making principles, dominated by the Single Undertaking and consensus , are essential given the nature of the membership and the political saliency of the issues, which has implications both for what is discussed (the agenda) and how (process). New rules apply to all, which means that voice for all members matters. While exit is difficult, any member can deny consensus, in principle if not in practice, which creates more roles for small groups and coalitions, and a common need for transparency.