Kanner, Aimee. (2002) European Union-Mercosur Relations: The Institutionalization of Cooperation, Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series, Vol. 1 No. 8, October 2002. [Working Paper]
The European Union is a continuing process of integration. Evidence of this is apparent in the current enlargement process. As this regional organization continues to deepen and widen, it remains a principle actor in the international community, not only through the often criticized Common Foreign and Security Policy, but more tangibly through its bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements, many of which are highly institutionalized and extend beyond the more popularly-known economic aspects of these external relations. In 1991, the Treaty of Asunción was signed, forming a new regional integration agreement between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Created out of joint political necessity, the Southern Cone Common Market, commonly known as Mercosur, has not adopted the European system of integration, but uses it as a model to develop an organization based on the economic, political, and social characteristics and needs of this particular region. While many systems of regional integration were either created or intensified in the Western Hemisphere during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mercosur is unique in that it has an institutional framework, a necessity for successful integration and external relations. Although the Mercosur institutions are weak compared to those of the European Union, they are the most advanced of all the regional organizations in the Western Hemisphere, recently taking a respectable step in the direction of supranationality. Since the creation of Mercosur, the European Union has been a strong supporter of this initiative, and continues to promote closer ties with the region. Other than economic opportunity, why is the European Union so interested in formalizing, and indeed, institutionalizing relations with Mercosur? And how has this relationship progressed over the past eleven years?
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