Centre for the Study of European Contract Law

NWO VENI 'Bringing Democracy to Markets: TTIP and the Politics of Knowledge in Postnational Governance'

In August 2015 Marija Bartl was awarded a VENI grant, a personal grant by the NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, to do research into how TTIP affects democratic processes.

  1. The grant will allow her for the next three years (1 January 2016 until 1 January 2019) to pursue her research project 'Bringing Democracy to Markets: TTIP and the Politics of Knowledge in Postnational Governance' in which she analyses the TransatlanticTrade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) from the perspective of 'de-democratization' of market regulation beyond the state with the aim to develop tools on how to minimize negative effects.

Project summary

Market integration beyond the state increasingly limits the extent to which citizens are able to decide democratically what they want to eat, breath, and the conditions in which they want to live. The new EU–US trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), presents an urgent example of such legitimacy challenge. First, the TTIP threatens to arrogate to trade officials and agency experts the power to define the contours of the emergent Transatlantic ‘common market’. Second, the TTIP shifts the question of desirable level of risk (for instance regarding the impact of GMOs or gas fracking) further beyond democratic control. Finally, the TTIP opens rule-making to ‘early input’ from stakeholders, giving privileged access to those who have resources to act in multiple international fora, i.e. large businesses. The impact of the TTIP raises, therefore, significant democratic and redistributive concerns.

Market integration beyond the state increasingly limits the extent to which citizens are able to decide democratically what they want to eat, breath, and the conditions in which they want to live. The new EU–US trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), presents an urgent example of such legitimacy challenge. First, the TTIP threatens to arrogate to trade officials and agency experts the power to define the contours of the emergent Transatlantic ‘common market’. Second, the TTIP shifts the question of desirable level of risk (for instance regarding the impact of GMOs or gas fracking) further beyond democratic control. Finally, the TTIP opens rule-making to ‘early input’ from stakeholders, giving privileged access to those who have resources to act in multiple international fora, i.e. large businesses. The impact of the TTIP raises, therefore, significant democratic and redistributive concerns. Until now scholars have discussed the TTIP as a part of international (economic) law. This project, in contrast, starts from a premise that the TTIP’s democratic implications require its evaluation according to more stringent legitimacy criteria. Hence, drawing on the democratisation experience of yet another economic integration project – the EU – this project will interpret the TTIP as a part of a broader process of de-democratisation of market governance beyond the state. The project has two major goals.

1. It will describe and analyse the design of TTIP’s institutions, submitting them simultaneously to normative critique.

2. The project develops a theory that, by re-phrasing the legitimacy problem beyond the state in terms of dissociation of knowledge production from democracy
a) it explains the character and continuity of democratic challenges across various forms of post-national market integration and
b) offers practical guidance for their resolution.

Published by  CSECL

11 July 2016