Negotiating Mega-Agreements: Lessons from the EU

23 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2014

See all articles by Patrick A. Messerlin

Patrick A. Messerlin

Groupe d'Economie Mondiale at Sciences Po (GEM Paris)

Date Written: December 2014


One of the stated objectives of recent ‘mega’ preferential trade agreements (PTAs) being negotiated by large trading powers is to address the trade-impeding effects of differences in national regulation. Past experience demonstrates there are serious limitations in what can be achieved in PTAs even in instances where there is a high level of trust among the countries involved. The disappointing results of the European Union’s “Internal Market” illustrate the challenge of using PTAs to integrate markets. This paper argues that some systemic errors were made in the way the EU Internal Market was negotiated. The two main instruments used to build the EU Internal Market — harmonization and mutual recognition — are of limited usefulness for integrating modern economies. An alternative instrument — mutual equivalence — is a much more promising instrument not only for the EU but also for the mega-PTAs currently under negotiation.

Keywords: Regulation; trade agreements; EU; TTIP

Suggested Citation

Messerlin, Patrick A., Negotiating Mega-Agreements: Lessons from the EU (December 2014). Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. 2014/112, Available at SSRN: or

Patrick A. Messerlin (Contact Author)

Groupe d'Economie Mondiale at Sciences Po (GEM Paris) ( email )

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