The connection between labour standards and international trade has become a key issue in the relations between industrialized economies and developing countries. Both the US and the EU are advocates of the inclusion of ‘labour standards’ in trade agreements with developing countries, in multilateral, bilateral and unilateral contexts alike. As the prospects of establishing multilateral rules governing the relations between trade and labour within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have diminished, both trade blocs increasingly focus on bilateral forums to pursue their policy goals.
In this article, the objectives are twofold. First of all, we aim at describing the main points of difference between the EU’s and the US’s approach toward the inclusion of labour standards in bilateral trade agreements. In a second step, we will formulate a possible explanation for these differences based on a theoretical model that focuses on the aggregative role of political parties in the context of European and US policy-making on trade.European Foreign Affairs Review