What Kind of Interregionalism? The EU-Mercosur Relationship within the Emerging 'Transantlantic Triangle'

Item Reference: 
BRIGG 2010/3
Publication Date: 
Publication Place: 
Publication Language: 
College of Europe/UNU-CRIS
Series Title: 
BRIGG Working Papers
Working Paper Type: 

This paper analyzes the evolving interregional partnership between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur in the context of the changing systemic constraints of the “transatlantic triangle”. It examines to what extent the EU-US relationship constrains the European “governance externalization” strategy towards Mercosur, and how the rise of Brazil affects the competing EU-US interregional strategies vis-à-vis the Southern Cone. Building on a realist declination of the “new regionalist” approach, the paper argues that the changing power configuration of the “transatlantic triangle” has a twofold impact on EU-led interregionalism: first, in the absence of the US-linked structural pressures stemming from the negotiation process of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the EU is expected to reduce its commitment to the political strengthening of the EU-Mercosur interregional partnership; second, the rise of Brazil constitutes the key driver behind the European shift from “pure interregionalism” to “selective bilateralism”. As a generalizable conclusion, the systemic constraints imposed by the “transatlantic triangle” relationship on the EU-Mercosur interregional partnership entail a pessimistic outlook for interregionalism both as a long-term relational pattern and as a strategy to foster global governance based on “regionalized multilateralism”.