The more things change the more they stay the same?
María J. García and Arantza Gómez Arana
This volume has shown how inter-regional relations have evolved over time, and how they have been mediated by exogenous factors, mainly US policies, economic crises and, more recently, the perceived crisis in globalisation. President Barack Obama’s approach to trade policy, with his desire to engage in mega-regional agreements in the Pacific and Atlantic spaces in order to set the global trade rules, bypass the WTO and stagnating Doha Round negotiations, and counter Chinese economic power, helped to encourage MERCOSUR states to re-engage in negotiations with the EU (Gomez-Arana 2017). Even more importantly, since the election of President Donald Trump in November 2016, the EU took on the baton of promotion of a liberal trade agenda and redoubled efforts to conclude ongoing trade negotiations with partners across the globe, in symbolic defiance of the US stance. In the 2020s EU–Latin American co-operation for a united front in defence of the liberal order, exemplified in the conclusion of EU–MERCOSUR negotiations and motivated by the need to respond to Donald Trump’s presidency, shows a renewed spirit of co-operation amongst two regions united by common values and goals. However, as in past decades, each side’s complicated domestic political and economic situations, which the Covid-19 outbreak has exacerbated, threatens to once again relegate EU–Latin American relations in the hierarchy of foreign policy priorities.
The recent decline in EU–LAC trade exchange and development co-operation occurred parallel to an increasing weakness of political dialogue forums. The three elements trade, development co-operation and political dialogue between the EU and Latin America followed the EU foreign policy doctrine of inter-regionalism, a group-to-group relationship between two integrated blocs. This “triangle model” came under stress from the backlash of globalisation and regionalism, and the emergence of external actors like China or India to the detriment of traditional partners like the US and the EU. To reactivate relations, the EU and Latin America should reduce political co-operation to those issues that are of real mutual interest and inter-regional convergence like drugs or climate policies. At the same time the “one size fits it all” approach does not work in a deeply divided region in terms of development, size, political ideology and external partners.
This chapter explores the practices and institutions that have allowed the EU–Mexico relationship to increase the political and economic interconnections between the countries since the early 1990s. After both parties negotiated the 1997 Global Agreement, the first of its kind between the EU and a Latin American country, the bilateral relationship has been characterised by a convergence of public policy visions, which has benefited both parties to address the shifts in the international order since the late 2000s: the 2008 financial crises, the rise of China in global trade, the technological revolution and questions about the durability of US global leadership. In order to face such a context, the EU and Mexico agreed to modernise the GA in 2016 and conclude negotiations in 2020. One of the main goals of this chapter, along the lines of the premises of this book, is to explain and discuss the complexity of EU–Mexican trade relations considering the challenges the global trade system is facing today. After reviewing the literature about the study of the EU–Mexico relationship and the contribution of the gridlock concept to explain its existence, this chapter examines three significant points in the EU–Mexico relationship. First, it provides a contextual overview about the main trends of the world trade system and the potential effects on Latin America. Second, it explains the conditions that facilitated the negotiation of the GA, its evolution and the subsequent Strategic Partnership (SP). The final section discusses the rationale for the modernisation of the GA and some of its unique details.
In 2012 the EU signed a trade agreement with Peru and Colombia, to which Ecuador subscribed in 2016, having abandoned regional-to-region negotiations with the Andean Community in favour of finalising an agreement with the countries that had already completed agreements with the United States. This chapter explores how the long shadow of the US, so often used to describe the nature of the EU’s relation with Latin America, emerged again in the rationales and negotiations of this modern trade agreement. It traces the impact of the US and its commercial policy on the EU–Peru/Colombia negotiations and on the negotiated outcomes, portraying EU–US competition underlying the EU–Peru/Colombia trade agreement in shaping the context of negotiations as an exercise in geo-economic balancing. The chapter also examines the initial stages of implementation of the agreement, paying particular attention to the controversial Trade and Sustainable Development chapter. The analysis concludes that the trade agreement on its own has not driven major policy changes in the Andean countries but has bolstered broader international commitments to changes in labour laws and policy reforms by creating additional pressure and accountability mechanisms. In so doing the chapter highlights the importance of contextualising trade agreements as one aspect of broader international relations between the EU and Latin American countries.
European relations with external countries have mainly focused on trade, aid and technical assistance, developing preferential relationships. The network of relationships between the EU and some non-member states defined as a “Pyramid of privilege” (Hill and Smith 2005). These kinds of European relationships extended towards some Latin American countries. Before the 1970s the European Union did not consider foreign policy to Latin America a fundamental issue.These dealings started as a consequence of European intervention in Central America in the 1980s. After this the EU inaugurated new institutionalised relationships with Latin America through sub-regional and regional groups. The Union decided to move its relations with Latin America towards some forms of “associated statuses”; thus, this occurred only with Chile and Mexico. Through this particular condition as a European partnership, each country participated actively in social and co-operation programmes (in horizontal programmes). These involvements increased close links between the EU and Latin America and strengthened European influences in developing domestic policies in Chile and Mexico. The chapter analyses the ties between the EU, Chile and Mexico, specifically how the EU has influenced domestic policies in higher education and science and technology areas, considering the nature of its relationships since 1997.
Contemporary dynamics of EU–LAC inter-parliamentary relations
Bruno Theodoro Luciano
Inter-regional relations between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean (EU–LAC) have not only been identified within the diplomatic and intergovernmental spheres. In fact a prominent inter-parliamentary dialogue between these regions has been promoted since the 1970s, years before the first EU–LAC executive summits. The fact that due to colonialism the continents have historically shared the same language, political traditions and culture facilitated the political approximation of both sides, including at the inter-parliamentary level. Alongside this common political and cultural background, in 2006 the Euro–Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (Eurolat) was formalised as the parliamentary dimension of EU–LAC bi-regional Strategic Association (1999). Considering the relations among parliamentarians from the two sides of the Atlantic, this chapter aims to shed some light on the past and current developments of EU-–LAC inter-parliamentary relations, something still neglected by the academic literature on EU–LAC inter-regionalism. By unveiling recent debates and topics of the Eurolat agenda since its establishment in 2006, this chapter intends to highlight how EU–LAC relations at the parliamentary level have evolved over the past decades. Important emphasis is given not just to the development of the institutional settings of this relationship but also to the political or ideological aspects of it, which explain how parliamentarians and political parties of the two regions have dialogued and clashed over key political, economic and social issues over the past years.
This chapter focuses on the EU’s trade ties with the states of the Andean Community. Today these revolve around a combined Free Trade Agreement between the EU and three of the organisation’s members, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. The chapter considers the complex dynamics that have led to the opening of trade negotiations with the region and which ensured their ultimate if only partial success. The chapter argues that, given the limited economic relevance of the Andean region for the EU, the complex ties between the two regions can be explained only through a consideration of external factors. Trade policy developments at the global level, such as the failure of the Doha Development Agenda, or the trade policy of the United States, have ultimately provided the setting for negotiations between the EU and the Andean Community. Rather than limiting the analysis to these exogenous developments, the chapter considers how these have impacted both the Andean region and institutional decision-making in the EU to explain the outcome of EU–Andean Community trade negotiations.
There are domestic politics in both Latin America and the EU that affect relations between them, such as Brexit on one side and the presidency of Bolsonaro and the crisis in Venezuela on the other. However, since 2016, the possibility of further developing their interdependence came to seem a desired outcome in order to overcome the decline in multilateralism at the international level, and in response to the protectionist and isolationist stances of the US as well as the rise of China. The book is intended to capture all of the recent changes at the international level and interpret how they would affect Latin America and the European Union. The book aims to discuss this interdependence in order to facilitate a discussion on how significant both regions have become for each other, as well as in relation to other international actors. The chapters discuss European Union–Latin America relations with all of this in mind.Overall, this book offers the different points of views of academics using different approaches to the question of how Latin America and the European Union have engaged with one another over time, considering the role of both domestic and international politics. It seems clear that the political aspect and economic aspect are interlinked. Since 2016 this has only become even more relevant.
Latin America–European Union relations in the twenty-first century provides a valuable overview in English of transatlantic trade agreement negotiations and developments in the first decades of the twenty-first century. The collection examines key motivations behind trade agreements, traces the evolution of negotiations and explores some of the initial impacts of new-generation trade agreements with the EU on South American countries. The book makes an important contribution to our understanding of relations between these regions by contextualising relations and trade agendas within the frames of both domestic political and economic policies and broader global trends. It demonstrates the importance of a shift towards mega-regional trade agreements in the 2010s, particularly under the Obama Administration in the United States, in shaping South American and European agendas for trade agreement negotiations and in explaining the timing and outcomes of these. Various chapter investigate in detail the relations with MERCOSUR, the Andean states, Chile and Mexico in particular, as these countries have negotiated new generation trade agreements with the EU. Other contributions offer an overarching panorama of EU–Latin American relations, including parliamentary and civil society relations. The net result is a balanced analysis of contemporary EU relations with South America.
This chapter argues that the shift in world politics that commenced in 2016 has created the best momentum to further develop Latin American and European Union relations for political and economic reasons. For political reasons it is intended to reinforce an international arena where multilateralism and respect for international forums and international law continue to exist. For economic reasons it is a way of creating growth and redistributing economic power away from the two largest economies (the US and China) who have clear foreign policy goals regarding the projection of power in both Latin America and the European Union. They are dangerously taking everyone towards a bipolar world. The remainder of this chapter discusses the economic balance of power that has developed over time between the North and the South with a discussion of the BRICS as well as a discussion of the potential outcomes of those struggles, followed by the development of mega-regional agreements until 2016. In Latin America the election of Bolsonaro in 2018 with an individualistic agenda was expected to affect the negotiations with the other countries within Mercosur or with the European Union. Although the EU and Latin America have intended for years to review their links, Trump’s unilateral and conflictive measures against them have actually accelerated their agendas (Santander 2020). Therefore for some of them the counterbalancing exercise took place against Trump, or for others potentially against China or even against both.