In contributing to the debate on the European Union (EU)'s comprehensive approach to security, this article examines the structural-operational interface between trade and security. It hypothesizes that the challenge of comprehensive security to combine structural activities with operational measures is most pronounced in the trade-security interface. As the oldest, most integrated and most powerful external policy domain of the EU, trade policy has acquired a high degree of institutional autonomy, operates according to its own logic and standard procedures and has a distinct organizational esprit de corps. This inhibits the integration of the EU's trade policy into the more comprehensive security portfolio.
To operationalize this hypothesis, the article empirically explores the coherence between EU trade and security discourses and the extent to which trade measures have been used for security policy ends, as envisaged in the 2003 European Security Strategy. The empirical analysis confirms the hypothesis that coherence between the trade and security areas is limited, and that this relates to the institutional insulation of the EU trade policy sphere. However, the findings reveal that external factors, such as international trade law and preferences of the trade partners, should also be considered to further explain the relatively limited coherence between EU trade and security.European Foreign Affairs Review