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It Takes Two to Tango: A Constructivist Analysis of EU-ASEAN Interregional Relations

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Global Power Europe - Vol. 2

Part of the book series: Global Power Shift ((GLOBAL))

Abstract

Drawing primarily from social constructivist perspectives, this essay traces the contemporary interregional relations of East Asia and the European Union (EU). Considering the constructivist themes of shared identity and interests, I argue that there are fundamental difficulties found in these interregional relations, which must be urgently addressed. Despite the relatively strong economic and political engagement of the Union, the EU continues to be under-valued and misunderstood in the eyes of the East Asian public. With the rise of China as a global power, Europe must reinforce its political capital in other strategic world regions amidst the failures of the EU to reconcile its policy inconsistencies juxtaposed with its self-perception as a ‘normative power.’ This can be seen in EU’s recent engagements with ASEAN as the former has been seen as undetermined in promoting human rights and democratic norms in the region. Nonetheless, EU-ASEAN relations may still be considered as a promising case for the EU to export its model of multi-level governance, and enhance its ‘actorness’ and institutional legitimacy. Finally, in order for interregional relations to be reinvigorated, the two regions must identify and pursue their mutually shared interests such as economic development, democratic proliferation, and human rights provisions.

This essay is an updated and revised version of an earlier peer-reviewed article: Regilme, S.S.F. (2010) The Chimera of Europe’s Normative Power in East Asia: A Constructivist Analysis. Central European Journal of International and Security Studies Volume 5 Issue 1 pp. 69–90

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Notes

  1. 1.

    “Asia”, in this case, broadly refers to ASEAN members as well as the Northeast Asian states (Japan, South Korea and China), and when the term “East Asia” is used, it includes both the ASEAN member states as well as the Northeast Asian states.

  2. 2.

    For further reading on the global political-economic dimensions of financial and economic regionalism see the work of Grimes (2009) and a critical review of such work by Regilme (2012).

  3. 3.

    The economic strength of East Asia can be gleaned from the East Asian miracle story as well as the economic boom that first started by Japan. For further literature review on East Asian “economic miracle” story, see: Meredith Woo-Cummings. The Developmental State. (Cornell, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999) 346 pages; Chalmers Johnson. MITI and the Japanese Miracle. (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1982), 412 pages; Charles Polidano. “Don’t Discard State Autonomy: Revisiting the East Asian Experience of Development”, in Political Studies Review 49:3 (2001): 513–527; Mark Thompson, “Late industrialisers, Late democratizers: developmental states in the Asia-Pacific”, in Third World Quarterly. (1996), 17(4): 625–647.

  4. 4.

    Alfredo Robles (2008a) contends that the failure of EU-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement can be gleaned from the breakdown of EU’s negotiations with Mercosur wherein “special differentiated treatment” (SDT) was not applied for low-income Mercosur countries. It must be noted, as Robles asserts, that ASEAN’s low-income countries may be the only one who can expect for such “SDT”. Nonetheless, even the high- and middle-income ASEAN countries may still face a very arduous task competing with key EU economic players. In addition, in Robles (2008b), it was contended that there is a misguided perception on how the fast-paced process of EU and ASEAN towards FTA negotiations was considered a success. Accordingly, the EU was compelled to agree to take the ASEAN negotiation format that implied the inclusion of Myanmar, amidst the reinstatement of EU sanctions against Myanmar. This clearly shows another policy inconsistency of the EU in its relations with East Asia. Refer to: Alfredo Robles, “The EU and the ASEAN: Learning from the Failed EU-Mercosur FTA Negotiations,” ASEAN Economic Bulletin 25 (3) (2008a):334–344; Alfredo Robles, “An EU-ASEAN FTA: The EU’s Failures as an International Actor,” European Affairs Review 13: (2008b): 541–560.

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Correspondence to Salvador Santino F. Regilme Jr. .

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Regilme, S.S.F. (2013). It Takes Two to Tango: A Constructivist Analysis of EU-ASEAN Interregional Relations. In: Boening, A., Kremer, JF., van Loon, A. (eds) Global Power Europe - Vol. 2. Global Power Shift. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-32416-1_14

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