The Evolution of EU Trade Law Through the Prism of Competence: A Quantitative, Longitudinal Perspective


Most trade law scholarship analyses developments on a case-by-case basis, which makes the discipline liable to miss changes that occur in the aggregate. In an attempt to partially rectify this lacuna, this article compiles a quantitative, longitudinal picture of European Union (EU) trade law based on a primary dataset of over 6000 acts, along with additional data on international agreements, decisions thereunder, and implementing and delegated acts. The selection of this simplified corpus of EU trade law is driven by the so-called legal basis which signifies the existence of EU competence in a given area – in this case international trade. We focus on the EU’s competence regarding the common commercial policy and the common customs tariff which constitute the core of EU trade powers. We find that the expansion of the latter has, counterintuitively, not translated into an increase in the quantity of trade acts produced by the EU, and we sketch out possible explanations for the quantitative trends observed in our data.

Journal of World Trade