The growing success of populist — and, very often, sovereignist — rhetoric, both on Left and Right, the triggering of Brexit and the accession to the US presidency of a Donald Trump who is intent on putting the interests of his country above all others, have rightly given cause for anxiety over some months now. There is particular concern with regard to trade, where existing agreements are being cast into doubt, protectionist measures initiated and trade deals currently under negotiation rejected. Above and beyond the media commotion over these developments, are we actually facing a genuine risk to multilateralism and the regulation of international trade?
Jean-François Drevet examines this question through a presentation of the arrangements that currently apply with respect to free trade, particularly from the standpoint of the EU and its member states. He warns of the dangers inherent in any waning of trade multilateralism or return to protectionism, while stressing the technical difficulties of reversing developments in the field. Though it is more than necessary to establish fair competition rules and measures that respect citizens, democracy, the environment etc., those regulations should be achieved within the framework of the international free-trade agreements constructed since 1945, not by states turning their backs on them.