Dirk De Bièvre, Andreas Dür
Delegation and Agency Control in European and American Trade Policy

Technische Universität

Students of European trade policy have often wondered whether this policy field is characterised by its gradual communitarisation or rather by its re-nationalisation. Debate on American trade policy similarly has often centred on the riddle whether the US Congress has abdicated its constitutional powers of trade policy in favour of the president, or whether it dominates the policy process. In this paper, we argue that over the last half century, delegation as well as agency control in both political entities have consistently increased at a similar pace. Principals delegate trade policy to agents to satisfy heterogeneous constituency preferences. In recent decades, moreover, they have reacted to increasing demands that trade policy cover “new” issues by increasing the degree of delegation, while simultaneously increasing their degree of control over the agent. We revisit the major acts of delegation in both the EU and the US over the last half century and examine whether control has kept pace.