This article focuses on the EU's strategy for choosing regulatory venues to negotiate trade agreements. It analyses the existence of a clear venue hierarchy since the late 1990s and the recent change leading to a blurring of any clear preference for using bilateral, inter-regional or multilateral settings. The article challenges domestic explanations of the EU's choice of venue, stressing the autonomy of the Commission as a major factor. Using a principal-agent framework, it shows that the Commission's agenda-setting powers, the existence of interest divergence among principals (e.g. Member States, business groups) and the multi-level system facilitate agency.