The 'Palm Oil Wars' or how the EU's 'inflated' common commercial policy might need to prioritize its non-trade values

Szilárd Gáspár-Szilágyi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article I rely on the recent 'Palm Oil Wars' between the EU, Malaysia, and Indonesia to illustrate how the EU's 'inflated' Common Commercial Policy (CCP) is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. The CCP's expansion in scope, the external effects of internal EU environmental legislation, the increased role of the European Parliament in the conclusion of international agreements, as well as the EU's constitutional mandate to pursue non-trade values in its external and trade relations has increased the number of issues and players that can affect the negotiation of preferential trade agreements. As a possible solution, I propose that the EU should prioritize its non-trade values and objectives, among which one can mention the protection of human rights, the promotion of democratic values, the rule of law, sustainable development, environmental protection, and investment protection. For higher non-trade values, the EU should follow a principle-based approach, even if the risk is that no agreement will be concluded; for medium-level values, the EU should follow a more concessionary approach and accept certain trade-offs in order to keep concluding trade agreements and remain a credible international partner, whilst lower non-trade values or objectives can be excluded from the negotiations if they risk jeopardizing them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-56
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Foreign Affairs Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Kluwer Law International. All rights reserved.


  • Common Commercial Policy
  • EU environmental legislation
  • nontrade values
  • Palm Oil Wars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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