Young Researchers

New Multilateralism in External Relations between the European Union and Latin America: Opportunities and Challenges for Transregionalisation

In light of the growing presence of political, economic and social integration endeavours within the international and interregional contexts, the diversification of external relations for states - and the significance that it entails - has increased and significantly contributed to a more constructive participation of actors that were traditionally not active in multilateral dynamics. Thus, through infra and interregional multilateralism fostered by integration platforms, a growing number of states pursue their national interests and reflect political commitment to joint institutional visions and actions at the regional level. Either determined by land connection, identity, trade zones or common values (amongst further considerations, which will be revised throughout this inquiry), this regionalist institutionalisation has also thrived in a multi-polarised and multi-sectorial practice of International Relations (IR), which shows that no longer states exclusively but also regions play a significant role - more significantly so when their advancements become institutionalised. Furthermore, ever since the end of the late 20th century bipolarisation, this practice is characterised by a widely adopted discussion upon which regions are connected and under which considerations. The conceptualisation of the borders of regions, traditionally geography-based, now also relies upon the level of interdependence, identity, level of institutionalisation, commercial interests, amongst others.

Albeit regions are defined as socially constructed spaces between the global and the national level1, the evolving classification of the criterion that defines them has been accompanied by states’ consistently evolving interest and search for platforms upon which they become institutionalised. For this reason, multilateralism has been adopted in the agendas of not only countries but also regional and international organisations. Integration, nonetheless, does not come out of the blue nor does it exist with no particular purpose.

Just as in the case of European integration, numerous Latin American countries as will be revised throughout), often following the institutional example of the former, have established platforms for dialogue that aim to strengthen cohesion and foster integration dynamics. Despite the various institutional attempts that both regions have historically developed, both at the intra and interregional levels, the current international political scenario seems to more significantly pave the way for a reassessment of such multilateral endeavours. For they could be a means to overcome common challenges and find more effective, sustainable and long-lasting joint solutions through a reconstructed and updated association.

Ultimately, these political events will be analytically juxtaposed to the multilateral developments in the two adjacent regions – Latin America and the European Union – in which the impacts of these outcomes were correlated to direct political, economical and social outputs and influences that all the actors involved exert on one another. This will allow to find points of encounter that aim to explain the evolving framework of multilateralism between the European Union and Latin America that could thrive in transregionalisation. Essentially, this work aims to shed light on the convenience and, more significantly, the salient necessity of a joint EU- Latin American action to strengthen the transregional framework through a renewed approach to multilateralism. This in order to effectively, efficiently, sustainably and based on common institutional values and visions, tackle the effects and consequences of the aforementioned events.

The selection of the Young Researcher project is done through a call published on the EU-LAC Foundation networks and website.

Diego Durán Cruz