The time has come to look at Brazil : the EU’s shift from interregional negotiations with MERCOSUR to a bilateral Strategic Partnership with Brazil
Title: The time has come to look at Brazil : the EU’s shift from interregional negotiations with MERCOSUR to a bilateral Strategic Partnership with Brazil
Author: MEISSNER, Katharina L.
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2015/37; Global Governance Programme-172
In 2007, the EU launched a Strategic Partnership with Brazil despite the EU’s commitment to multilateralism and despite the long-lasting interregional relationship between the EU and MERCOSUR since 1995. By singling out Brazil, the EU shifted from the EU-MERCOSUR interregional negotiations on an Association Agreement (1999-2004) to a bilateral track. In view of the EU’s inconsistency in multilateral, interregional, and bilateral approaches towards South America, the paper will analyze why the EU shifted to a Strategic Partnership, and it will compare the interregional negotiations (1999-2004) with the bilateral talks with Brazil (since 2007). The comparative analysis will rely on original data from 29 semi-structured elite interviews conducted in Brussels, Belgium, and Montevideo, Uruguay, and on grey literature and the news portal Mercopress. The paper argues that the EU switched from interregional to bilateral talks because it feared losing Brazil to its competitors, the U.S. and China. In its endeavor to prevent this loss, when interregional negotiations seemed fruitless because of MERCOSUR’s increasing fragmentation, the EU privileged Brazil as a strategic partner. Although the EU has committed itself to supporting regional integration in South America, material interests have sidelined this commitment. This paper looks at these – to date little studied – material interests that have rendered the EU’s foreign policy towards developing regions vulnerable to international factors.
Subject: Interregionalism; MERCOSUR; Brazil; EU foreign trade policy; Strategic Partnership
Type of Access: openAccess