School of Geography

People menu

Dr Mirela Barbu


Postdoctoral Research Associate

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7882 2753
Room Number: Bancroft Building, Room 2.01


After graduating from the Academy of Economic Sciences in Bucharest, I undertook an MSc in Economics in Turin, followed by my doctoral studies in Economic Geography at the University of Sussex. Having lived in Romania during the socialist period under Ceausescu’s dictatorship and then, after 1990, studying and working in Italy and the UK, I developed a strong interest in understanding the extraordinary transformation of Europe after the fall of the ‘iron curtain’ and the impact that the neoliberal economic restructuring had on the uneven development of the enlarged Europe.

My research interests include: regional inequalities and the political economy of the enlarged Europe; geographies of globalization and the rise of China; labour markets, welfare states and policy change in Europe.

I joined the School of Geography in September 2015 to work on an ESRC-funded research project, coordinated by Professor Adrian Smith. The project aims to analyse the “new generation” of the European Union’s free trade agreements, including elements relating to sustainable development, and to assess impacts on national institutional frameworks and leading economic sectors of three chosen countries.


Research Interests:



  • Barbu M., Dunford M. and Liu W. (2013) Employment, entrepreneurship and citizenship in a globalized economy: the Chinese in Prato, Environment and Planning A, 45(10): 2420–2441
  • Dunford M., Dunford R., Barbu M. and Liu W. (2013) Globalization, cost competitiveness, international trade: the evolution of the Italian textile and clothing industries and the growth of trade with China, European Urban and Regional Studies, published on line before print doi:10.1177/0969776413498763

In progress:

  • Barbu M., Campling L., Smith A., Harrison J. and Richardson B. (2016) Global Value Chains and Labour Standards in the European Union’s Free Trade Agreements: The Missing Link between International Trade Regulation and Global Production?, Environment and Planning A (under revision)
  • Harrison J., Barbu M., Campling L., Richardson B. And Smith A. (2016) Governing Labour Standards through Free Trade Agreements: Limits of the European Union’s Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters, Journal of Common Market Studies (under revision)
  • Smith A., Barbu M., Campling L., Harrison J. and Richardson B. (2017) Labour Regimes, Global Production Networks and Trade Policy: Labour Standards and Export Production in the Moldovan Clothing Industry, Economic Geography (submitted)

In preparation:

  • Harrison J., Richardson B., Smith A., Campling L. and Barbu M. (2017) Taking Labour Rights Seriously in Post-Brexit UK Trade Agreements: Protect, Promote and Empower, Human Rights Law Review
  • Barbu M., Smith A., Harrison J., Campling L. and Richardson B. (2017) The tortuous road towards the enforcement of labour standards through international trade. The labour inspection in the Republic of Moldova, Asia Europe Studies
  • Richardson B., Campling L., Barbu M., Harrison J. and Smith A. (2017) Civil Society Involvement in EU Trade Agreements: Socialising New Constitutionalism? Review of International Political Economy



  • Barbu M., Smith A, Campling L., Harrison J. and Richardson B. (2017) “Note on the State Labour Inspectorate in the Republic of Moldova”, technical note for the chairs of the Domestic Advisory Groups under the EU-Republic of Moldova Association Agreement, document available from the authors.
  • Harrison J., Barbu M., Campling L., Richardson B. and Smith A. (2016) “Labour standards in EU free trade agreements”, GREAT Insights, ECDPM’s Magazine, vol. 5, issue 6, Dec16/Jan 17, 32-34
  • Smith A., Barbu M., Harrison J., Campling L. and Richardson B. (2016) “Labour Provisions in the European Union – Republic of Moldova Association Agreement”, in Handbook on Assessment of Labour Standards in Trade and Investment Arrangements, International Labour Organization, Geneva
  • Barbu M., Lisi S., Mammoliti E., Silani L. and Valentini L. (2009), ‘Policy Analysis and The Service Model’, Policy Notes 4: Work & Development, second part, 127-240 (policy report prepared by the Italian Agency for Active Labour Policies for the Ministry of Labour)
  • Barbu M. (2001) Cooperation and Socially Useful Jobs. The Value of a Price-less Policy, Rivista della cooperazione [Journal of Cooperation] no. 4: 9-14


Return to top