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Is European Inter Regionalism a Relevant Approach for the World or Just for Europe? Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series Vol. 7 No. 14 September 2007

Giacalone, Rita. (2007) Is European Inter Regionalism a Relevant Approach for the World or Just for Europe? Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series Vol. 7 No. 14 September 2007. [Working Paper]

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    [Introduction]. Most of the literature on inter regionalism seems to accept that, as a region, the European Union (EU) stimulates interregional cooperation in such a way that it may be responsible for adding a new category of relevant actors to world politics. This development is usually viewed by academics, mostly Europeans, positively, as a situation born from the affirmation of a European “soft power” vis-à-vis other alternatives of world order. Additionally, it is often assumed that the successful integration model of the EU is responsible for creating the conditions for emulation in other regional integration projects elsewhere, and implicitly that it could be the cornerstone of future world order. This paper explores this argument in order to provide a more accurate reading of European actions in the international landscape. Our starting point is the fact that the characteristics of the power that a nation state, or a group of nations such as the EU, exercises can be extrapolated from its internal make-up but should not be divorced from its actual behavior in the international arena. So far the behavior of the EU in that arena has been patterned along traditional lines of behavior of aspiring powers within historical settings dominated by a nation who faces problems in maintaining its hegemony. Thus, we argue that most of the literature on European “soft power” exceptionality is based on a reading of the EU internal make-up that is not paying attention to its actual behavior in the international arena. We accept that internal factors weigh on the foreign policy decisions made by a nation state or a group of nations, but also that the feeling of exceptionality – that a nation or group can develop because of its internal make-up – does not necessarily “spill over” to its international relations. So, we are going to test the proposition that, in order to protect its exceptionality, a nation state or group of nations applies different mechanisms to its international dealings, but those mechanisms are not different from the ones employed in similar international situations by nation states whose internal make-ups differ. In other words, the participation of a group of nations in the world order does not translate into a different behavior than that of previously isolated nation states, exemplified by the realist proposition that nation states and groups of nations still “value survival above all else.” And, in the case of the EU, this implies the survival of an internal make-up that has been successful for its members. As a consequence, inter regionalism can be seen as a European centered approach aimed at defending the permanence of the gains achieved by means of regional integration, but with little relevance in the medium and long term for a more democratic or more meaningful world order for developing nations. This paper contends that hegemony and emulation are just two faces of the power exercised by an actor within the international system. When a nation or group of nations has enough power to do so, it imposes its hegemony. When it does not have enough power, especially enough power to compete with an existing hegemon1 -- or it is unwilling to do so-- it would tend to emphasize other elements (its value system, for example) as an emulation horizon for other nations. Both behaviors translate into active foreign policies toward the rest of the world, and activism in foreign policy almost always is born out of the need to defend itself. In the case of the EU, its behavior towards Eastern European countries is that of a hegemon, according to the definition of hegemony in “Theorizing Regional Integration and Inter-Regional Relations (2)” (2006) – the EU establishes the goals, monitors the course of action, and supports the instruments required to carry out the undertakings agreed upon.(3) However, beyond Eastern Europe and Turkey, the EU lacks the power to impose its hegemony and is limited to resorting to an alleged “soft power” deal –i.e., inter regionalism. In the first section of this paper, we provide historical examples of the U.S., a nation state which has employed both hegemony and emulation as defense mechanisms at different stages in its history. This will demonstrate that, though much is made out of the European Union emulation, it is a mechanism to assert economic and political power that has been used before by individual nation states. And, in the second section, we discuss aspects of EU foreign policy towards developing nations that, when taken together, suggest that the adding of new relevant actors to world order by way of inter regionalism may help create a new balance of power under European tutelage, but this balance will not necessarily lead to a more democratic or lasting world order.

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    Item Type: Working Paper
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > External relations > common foreign & security policy 1993--European Global Strategy
    EU policies and themes > External relations > regionalism, international
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Series: Series > University of Miami, Florida-EU Center of Excellence > Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2008
    Page Range: p. 17
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:52

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