Living in a material world: Comparing the EU’s foreign trade policy towards South America and Southeast Asia’
Via della Badia dei Roccettini
50014 Fiesole FI
Speaker: Katharina Meissner
Discussant: José Antonio Sanahuja Perales – EUI – University of Madrid
Since 2006, the European Union (EU) has increasingly made use of bilateral (trade) relations, and, thus, departed from its earlier commitment to multilateralism. Two examples for this are the EU’s shift from interregional to bilateral relations with the Mercado Común del Sur (MERCOSUR) and its regional power Brazil, and with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its economically most important member Singapore. This turn to bilateralism is particularly puzzling in the cases of MERCOSUR and ASEAN because of the EU’s long-lasting relationship with these regional organizations and because of the EU’s financial support for their regional integration. Employing original data from 45 elite interviews, this article analyzes the EU’s recent switch in approach in a comparative fashion. Drawing on realist theorizing, this turn to bilateralism can best be explained by the EU’s motivation to secure its economic and regulatory power in South America and Southeast Asia.