• The course on the "The External Economic Action of the European Union and the Sustainable Development Goals" is offered within the framework of the ImprovEUorGlobe project led by our University. The course is delivered by the ImprovEUorGlobe Chair, Dr. Filippo Fontanelli from the University of Edinburgh. The ImprovEUorGlobe Coordinator is Prof. Elisa Baroncini from the University of Bologna. Beyond Coordinator and Chair, the ImprovEUorGlobe Academic Leads are Dr. Ana Maria Daza Vargas (University of Edinburgh), Prof. Genia Kostka (Freie Universität Berlin), Prof. Reetta Toivanen (The University of Helsinki), Prof. Piotr Szwedo (Uniwersytet Jagielloński w Krakowie), and Prof. Raquel Regueiro Dubra (Universidad Complutense de Madrid).
  • The course is addressed to the young researchers of the UNA Europa universities, who work on the sustainability aspects of the EU trade policy or want to learn more about them. The course is delivered in blended form (in person and online), across 10 two-hour sessions in the month of May 2023 (from Wednesday 3 May 2023 to Thursday 25 May 2023) from 13:00 to 15:00 (CET). All classes will be held at  Aula V Palazzo Poggi Malvezzi, Piano Terra Via Zamboni, 33, with exception to the class of 12 May that will be held at  Aula L, Complesso Belmeloro, Via Andreatta 8, Bologna.
  • After the course, the Chair will be available to offer research and career advice to young researchers (PhD candidate or ECRs) from all UNA Europa institutions, who are working or would like to work on themes of economic policies and sustainable development from an EU and international law perspectives. All interested researchers are invited to get in touch with Dr Fontanelli ( any time, to share their plans and ideas on which they would like to receive feedback (in the form of outlines, abstracts or short papers – do not send full manuscripts or draft chapters) during the dedicated sessions (see below). Dr Fontanelli will hold in July three dedicated drop-in sessions online, to share ad hoc feedback on the single proposals and provide mentoring advice on general issues (publishing strategies, funding opportunities for post-doc, research advice).
  • These sessions will take place on Teams. Dates, times and links are as follows:  

  • Monday July 10th, 14:00-16:00 CEST Teams link

  • Monday July 17th, 14:00-16:00 CEST Teams link

  • Monday July 31st, 09:00-11:00 CEST Teams link

About the Course

Many States no longer consider the liberalisation of global trade and investment flows an inherent good. Economic growth can both promote and hinder sustainable development; in the past decade, many unilateral or cooperative initiatives have emerged which seek to administer trade and investment to curb their detrimental effects. The European Union is at the forefront of many of these policies, and its external economic action is at an inflection point and is worth studying and assessing. In particular, it appears that while the EU continues to pledge loyalty to the rules and process of the World Trade Organization and strives to promote public goods in the multilateral fora, it has also equipped itself with many new regulatory tools, which ‘project’ its values beyond its boundaries.
It is impossible to read the EU’s current resort to unilateralism univocally, which are shaped by, and respond to, mixed motives and circumstances. The EU, understandably, is repositioning itself in an ecosystem in which multilateral trade rules are losing their bite, and major actors are opening using unilateral measures to advance their global agendas. At the same time, environmental protection has overtaken economic liberalisation in the ranking of the most urgent values, and the EU is re-shaping its external action accordingly, at the price of creating new barriers at the border, or adopting regulation with extra-territorial effects.
The primary aim of this course is to take stock of this new landscape, and observe in particular all the plans made by the EU to attain the sustainable development goals through its external actions in trade and investment matters. This ‘charting’ exercise will also allow us to assess and gauge the design and effects of these instruments (severally and collectively), and estimate their genuine connection with their putative goals. At the end of the course, we will be able to have an informed and insightful view of the EU’s contemporary track record in the field of external economic action, and judge its correspondence to the EU’s SDG agenda.
All participants are welcome. Prior knowledge of basic matters of EU law, WTO law and investment law is helpful.