The adoption by the European Union of environmental and social standards seems to affect trade relations with countries from outside the Union. Most seriously hurt are a great number of developing countries that are highly dependent on the European market for their exports. Complying with the said regulations means higher production costs, which eat into the respective countries’ international competitiveness. However, for all the widespread discontent, many developing countries are taking steps in order to adjust their production and export systems to the new rules. Unfortunately it will probably take a long time until full compliance is achieved. Meanwhile, in the short run, the frequent clashes between developing countries and their partners in the West in respect of environmental and social issues are disrupting the smooth functioning of international trade.