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From Changing the World to Fitting-In. The EU and Interregionalism

Maria Garcia
University of Nottingham
Maria Garcia
University of Nottingham
Open Panel

Abstract

At the heart of the EU (and EC’s) foreign policy tools even from the early days of integration, trade policy has had various incarnations throughout the years. This paper focuses on how interregional negotiations (with Mercosur, ASEAN) became cornerstones of the EU’s trade liberalisation policy, and how since the 2006 DG Trade ‘Global Europe’ document emphasising competitiveness (an agenda which continues in the 2010 Growth and Jobs trade strategy) this has been abandoned in favour of more pragmatic bilateral agreements. The paper draws on documentary evidence and interview materials to account for these changes. It argues that insufficient understanding of the realities outside of Europe, accounted for the lower effectiveness of EU conditionality in its interregional negotiations. Moreover, it suggests that within the new mind-set of competitiveness, perceived competition with other actors has become a stronger motivational factor for EU policy-makers, who have thus been willing to abandon interregional negotiations in favour of individual ones with those states that have engaged in active bilateral trade negotiations with EU competitors like the USA and China.