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Dr. Sophie Schram

Dr. Sophie Schram


Trade Policy and Province-Building: Québec and the Economic and Trade Agreement CETA, 2006-2014

(Supervisors: Joachim Schild, Trier / Jane Jenson, Montréal)

In my PhD project, I document how political representatives in the Canadian province Quebec interpreted and reacted to the opportunities and drawbacks of the new Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, negotiated between Canada and the European Union (2006-2014). I document the crucial role Quebec played in launching the new trade agreement, thereby breaking the deadlock in Euro-Canadian bilateral trade and investment relations which had ensued as a result of repeated failures of several bilateral negotiations since the 1990s. Taking advantage of a window of opportunity after the failure of the Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organisation, the Quebec Liberal government and its diplomats in Brussels brought CETA on the agenda of key Canadian and European policy makers (2006-2009), thereby asserting Quebec’s role as an international player, a central element in its province-building project.

A consequence of provincial implication in the agenda-setting and negotiation processes, and their interpretation of the various issues at stake during the negotiation process lies in the content and scope of the international agreement, which I detail in three case studies on public procurement, investment and agriculture respectively. Unlike in any other agreement, including NAFTA, the agreement’s scope extends to Canadian provincial and municipal public procurement markets. Initially often capitalised by provincial and municipal governments to foster local development, public procurement now became a tool for Quebec and the other Canadian provinces to take a more active role in Canada’s trade negotiations. Another result of CETA lies in enhanced investment opportunities and investment protection, mostly embedded in the provincial government’s project to develop Northern spaces by natural resource exploitation, including the mining sector. I show how investment became instrumental to this provincial development project. In the agricultural chapter, Quebec unexpectedly agreed to increased tariff-free import quotas for retail and industrial cheese, despite opposition by the politically influential and well-organised agricultural lobby. They were able to do so by deploying frames grounded in Canadian federalism, a repertoire that allowed Quebec’s government to legitimately exclude opposition to this policy shift.

As a result of the detailed analysis of these processes, I am able to document that interests in trade negotiations are not stable and unequivocal, as often depicted in trade relations theory, but rather unstable, context-dependent and multifaceted. On various occasions, policy-makers are confronted with incommensurate demands, while the rhythm of negotiations compels them to form coalitions and to construct a viable position. This position is the result, I argue, of a discursive strategy, understood as a socially constructed method of collective action that brings together actors with diverse motivations. In this process, repertoires of national, provincial and spatial development embed the way policy-makers conceive of the benefits and drawbacks of enhanced bilateral trade and investment relations. At the same time, the way political representatives construct their policy positions has effects upon the power relations and practices in the respective field.

Current Activities

Fieldwork and Research Stays

Apr. - June 2016
Montréal, affiliated to the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Governance (Jane Jenson)
Nov. - Dec. 2015
Montréal, affiliated to the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Governance (Jane Jenson)
May 2015
Mar. - Apr. 2015
Montréal, affiliated to the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Governance (Jane Jenson)
Sep. - Oct. 2014
Montréal, Ottawa, Québec
July 2014
Nov. - Jan. 2013/14
Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto


Master of Sciences European Studies (Research) London School of Economics and Political Science, European Institute
Master of European Studies Postgraduiertenstudiengang Europawissenschaften Freie Universität Berlin (in Kooperation mit HU und TU)
Bachelor of Arts Deutsch-französische Studien: grenzüberschreitende Kommunikation und Kooperation Universität Saarbrücken, Université Paul Verlaine - Metz

Work Experience

European Parliament Charles Goerens, Member of European Parliament
Saarland Ministry for Internal and European Affairs, Department: Europe and territorial cooperation, Greater Region
05/2010 - 07/2010
Regional Prefecture Lorraine (France), Secretary General for Regional Affairs, Assistant to the responsible for cross-border cooperation
European Parliament, Directorate General for Communication Liaison office in Luxembourg
11/2006 - 12/2006
Model European Parliament Slovenia, Member of the Luxembourgish students' delegation

Awards and Fellowships

Nov. 2012
Award for outstanding achievements, Franco-German University
Sep. 2009 - July 2010
Mobility Fellowship, Franco-German University


Trade Policy and Province-Building: Québec and the Economic and Trade Agreement CETA, 2006-2014 (Universität Trier, dissertation defended, September 2017).
(co-authored with Sarah Pröwrock and Kathleen Schlütter) “Johannes Angermüller et al. (eds.), Diskursforschung ‐ Ein interdisziplinäres Handbuch (2 Bände) (Bielefeld: 2015)” (Book Review), Politische Vierteljahresschrift 57:3, 506-508.
“La loi du camembert” as an Issue of Federalism: Reconciling Liberalism and Protectionism in Quebec, in: Ursula Lehmkuhl et al. (eds.), Spaces of Difference. Conflicts and Cohabitation (Münster: Waxmann).
"Katarzyna Stokłosa/Gerhard Besier (eds.), European Border Regions in Comparison: Overcoming Nationalistic Aspects or Re-Nationalization? Reviews & Critical Commentary (CritCom), (New York: Council For European Studies)" (Book Review). [published online: http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/critcom/european-border-regions-in-comparison-overcoming-nationalistic-aspects-or-re-nationalization/].
“Standpunkt: Gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt durch gemeinsame Wahlen.“ Debatte: Europa kontrovers. Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung [published online: http://www.bpb.de/internationales/europa/europa-kontrovers/182488/standpunkt-sophie-schram].

Conference Presentations

Oct. 2016
Public Procurement as a Discursive Tool: How Quebec Used International Trade to Foster Provincial Development
The Multilevel Politics of Trade in North America, Europe and beyond: Configurations, Patterns, Dynamics; Balsillie School of International Affairs/Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo (ON), 14-15/10/2016
Jun. 2015
Liminality and Trade Negotiations: Playing with Ambiguity in Quebec and French Political Discourse
Networking Conference of the IRTGs Diversity and Entre Espacios: Liminality, Trier, 10-13/06/2015.
Jan. 2015
'Maintenant, nous sommes à la table.' CETA and the Diffusion of European Multilevel Governance to Canada
Graduate Conference: The EU in the World, Mainz, 09-10/01/2015.
Sep. 2014
'La loi du camembert': Economic Globalisation and Quebec Border Discourse
IRTG International Conference, Montréal, Canada, 13-14/09/2014.
Aug. 2014
Framing the National Border: Quebec Parliamentary Discourse on the Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement
4th International Conference: Power, Culture & Economy, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland, 25-27/08/2014.
Jul. 2014
Die nationale Grenze Québecs in politischen Diskursen nach der Stillen Revolution
Grenzüberschreitendes Doktorandenkolloquium Logos: Controverses / KontroversenIPSE, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 04-05/07/2014.
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