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Unity in Divergence? Reconceptualising EU Regionalism Policies in Latin America

Daniel Schade

Official EU policy and researchers have, for a long time, emphasized the Union's role in promoting regionalism outside of its borders. However, recent choices in the EU's foreign relations with Latin America and the Caribbean cast some doubts on the continuing existence of this long-standing EU foreign policy goal. While official documents and past behaviour stress the EU's policy aim of supporting Latin American regional integration, the reality of the EU's regional policy is different. Rather than concentrating on fostering relations with regional organizations in the region, the EU has developed specific ties with so called strategic partners, negotiated bilateral Free Trade Agreements devoid of larger ambitions of political dialogue and cooperation, as well as demonstrated diverging approaches to different sub-regional organizations. The EU's overall policy aims in Latin America have always faced difficulties due to the region's political complexity. In contrast to past behaviour, however, recent changes in the Union's policies towards the Andean Community of Nations and the group of Central American states represent an effective abandonment of the EU's prior Latin America policy goals. While a weakening of the concepts of new regionalism and interregionalism with regards to the EU has been noted in the literature already, the abovementioned developments require a reconceptualization of the EU's ties with the region.

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