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Diego J. Linan Nogueras et Luis M. Hinojosa Martinez (2001), "Human rights conditionality in the external trade of the European Union : legal and legitimacy problems", Columbia Journal of European Law, vol. 7 (3) ; 307-336

21 mars 2001

This article discusses the relationship between respect for human rights and external trade in the European Union (EU), and focuses particularly on the issue of “conditionality” in international trade. It makes a distinction between positive and negative conditionality. Positive conditionality of the EU’s external trade refers to positive incentives and trade concessions that are offered to countries that commit themselves to respecting specific fundamental rights. In contrast, negative conditionality refers to withdrawal of unilateral trade concessions, economic countermeasures and trade sanctions as a reaction to violations of human rights in a third country. Negative conditionality faces the problem that it could be perceived as imperialist, Euro-centric, self-interested or protectionist. The article describes the development of the discourse on conditionality in the EU, and examines the application of conditionality in the external trade of EU. It concludes by suggesting that the problems associated with the legitimacy of negative conditionality could be overcome by a series of measures, such as incorporation of human rights as a fundamental principle of EU’s external policy, a clear framework for application of conditionality in external trade, and a certain amount of flexibility in application of human rights clauses.

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