There is currently a lively discussion underway over free trade agreements, including examples such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the EU or the agreements within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. Each of the parties is faced with high demands in the negotiations. These are concerned with the enforcement of important ‘national interests’ and the preservation of state sovereignty, with the environment and consumer protection, with broad scale social issues and finally, with ‘fair and just solutions’ for those involved.
However, there is an entirely different issue, which is much less in the public eye. This concerns what happens after the agreements have been negotiated and then adopted in the Member States. Ultimately, the success of economic integration agreements is dependant not only on their substantive content. An equally important question concerns the actual willingness of the parties, and how successful they will be in taking on and integrating the relevant provisions into their legal, economic and administrative practice. The challenge of implementation was inadequately taken into account in the past. In the current debate, it is gradually gaining the position of importance it actually deserves.
The author will argue that economic integration requires processes of change. This calls for a complex knowledge management system, in particular for the development of leadership and management. Corresponding approaches are presented in this article and then illustrated with relevant examples.Global Trade and Customs Journal