EBS 2017: European Economic Diplomacy

by Delphine Joos

Since the economic and financial crisis and the emergence of new economic powers, the economy has become the main driver of political influence in the EU.  As the Lisbon treaty introduced new EU competencies on foreign direct investments and the creation of the European External Action Service (EEAS), the importance of economic diplomacy has intensified. Today the trade area is not as it was shortly after World War ΙΙ.

During the moderated debate by Chris Burns at the European Business Summit, the essence and effectiveness of European Economic Diplomacy (EED) was discussed. The debate introduced space as an example of a sector which  is eager to use economic diplomacy to increase its profits. However, not all parties were in favour of using this new EU diplomacy tool, especially as not all business sectors agree on the necessity of EED. Throughout the debate, Angelos Pangratis, EEAS and Advisor HC responsible for EED, made it clear that EED is crucial to coordinate the horizontal advocacy and the decision making. Pangratis strongly believes in the efficiency of EED in places where no rules are in place.

Photo credit: Pixabay

The challenge of the EU is to form a coherent and uniform policy with priorities to engage in specific objectives. In Pangratis’ eyes, EED is the essential tool in today’s a globalised economy that has become extremely complex due to large competition between businesses worldwide.   International trade exists out of multilateral rules  which are  nonetheless influenced by power politics. As such, EED would be a useful and effective measure to protect the EU interest in a more direct way – a strategic view is necessary. The policy department of the European Parliament has recently published an in-depth analysis of the EU economic diplomacy strategy and the involvement of the EP in defining this strategy. However, listening to debate at the EBS17 it was indicated that the matter on how to develop the EED strategy is not crystal clear as parties do not agree on the precise approach. Nevertheless, it must be generally accepted that most likely this new tool will be developed and used to defend the EU’s interest. It will be crucial that all businesses, together with the EU, find an approach that can benefit all and leads to an effective and efficient trade strategy. Thus, EED can only be effective when used by all with  a coordinated strategy and clear policy purposes for the interest of businesses and the European Union.

Read more from YEL’s delegation to the European Business Summit 2017 here.

Delphine Joos is Delegate Officer to the European Business Summit 2017. After obtaining a bachelor degree in law with distinction at the University of Brussels and an Erasmus Exchangeat the University of Copenhagen, she is currently enrolled in a double master degree in Comparative Corporate and Financial law at the University of Brussels and the University of Leeds. Delphine will begin her third masters degree at the College of Europe in EU political and administrative studies from autumn 2017. Her professional aspirations focus on expertise in European policy drafting, and she is particularly interested in European economic diplomacy and European trade.

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