Despite its reputation as a champion of human rights, the European Parliament rarely takes a tough stance on including human rights conditionality clauses in its free trade agreements with third countries. Hence, many observers were baffled when the European Parliament insisted on such conditionality clauses in its negotiations over a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada. Given Canada firmly opposed these clauses, why risk derailing highly salient trade negotiations if your negotiation partner has a respectable human rights record anyway? In their article “The paradox of human rights conditionality in EU trade policy: when strategic interests drive policy outcomes” published in the Journal of European Public Policy, Katharina L. Meissner and Lachlan McKenzie offer an explanation to this puzzle that centres on the European Parliament’s strategic interests. Katharina and Lachlan argue that “the EP identified human rights conditionality as a ‘strategic issue’ because human rights made it appear as a unique supporter of legitimate and public interests.” In light of high-profile albeit contentious negotiations, taking risks in investing its political resources to insist on inclusion of non-commercial objectives in CETA was likely to pay off and promised to strengthen the EP’s public profile as a champion of human rights.