Shifting Between Hegemony and Dominance? A Neo-Gramscian Analysis of the EU as a Sructural Foreign Policy Actor: The Singular Case of the Cariforum-EU Economic Partnership Agreement
The groundbreaking scope of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union (EU) and Cariforum (CF) irrefutably marks a substantive shift in trade relations between the regions and also has far-reaching implications across several sectors and levels. Supplementing the framework of analysis of Structural Foreign Policy (SFP) with neo-Gramscian theory allows for a thorough investigation into the details of structural embeddedness based on the EU's historic directionality towards the Caribbean region; notably, encouraging integration into the global capitalist economy by adapting to and adopting the ideals of neoliberal economics. Whilst the Caribbean – as the first and only signatory of a ‘full’ EPA – may be considered the case par excellence of the success of the EPAs, this paper demonstrates that there is no cause-effect relationship between the singular case of the ‘full’ CF-EU EPA and the success of the EPA policy towards the ACP in general. The research detailed throughout this paper responds to two SFP-based questions: (1) To what extent is the EPA a SFP tool aimed at influencing and shaping the structures in the Caribbean? (2) To what extent is the internalisation of this process reflective of the EU as a hegemonic SFP actor vis-à-vis the Caribbean? This paper affirms both the role of the EU as a hegemonic SFP actor and the EPA as a hegemonic SFP tool. Research into the negotiation, agreement and controversy that surrounds every stage of the EPA confirmed that through modern diplomacy and an evolution in relations, consensus is at the fore of contemporary EU-Caribbean relations. Whilst at once dealing with the singular case of the Caribbean, the author offers a nuanced approach beyond 'EU navel-gazing' by incorporating an ‘outside-in’ perspective, which thereafter could be applied to EU-ACP relations and the North-South dialogue in general.