The evolution of cooperation between the European community and East Asia
2011-02-22T11:36:07Z (GMT) by
This thesis focuses on the problem of cooperation within the international political economy, with special reference to the European Union's relations with key partners in East Asia. In pursuing this focus, the thesis probes a number of central issues in international cooperation, which thus far have not been applied in detail to inter-regional cooperation. In particular, the argument focuses on the reasons for cooperation and defection, the balance between material interests, institutions and ideas in shaping cooperation, and the shifting balance between bilateral and multilateral modes of cooperation. This research makes use of three bodies of conceptual literature related to IPE and interregionalism. It firstly makes use of existing thoughts on cooperation inherent in modern IPE theory, especially with regard to neorealism, neoliberal institutionalism, and social constructivism, to analyse the balance between bilateralism and multilateralism as well as between material interest, institutions and ideas. Secondly, Robert Axelrod's findings concerning the 'evolution of cooperation' are integrated into the work, making use of ideas which support as well as clarify various means of understanding the global political economy already presented by IPE theories. Thirdly, in the respective chapters, comparisons are drawn between IPE's propositions on cooperation and Axelrod's notions of cooperation in relation to literature on regionalism and interregionalism. These insights are finally combined to set the foundations for a set of questions and propositions on interregional cooperation. These questions and propositions are subsequently analysed through four empirical cases focused on the European Community's political-economic relationship with East Asia. The bilateral cases are observed through a material, institutional, and ideational analysis of the EC's interregional relationships with Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the People's Republic of China. A similar analysis focusing on the multilateral dimension is conducted with the EC's interregional relationship with East Asia as seen through the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM). The observations in both cases include an analysis of trade, institutional development, and the EC's strategic documents. These observations are designed to draw out comparisons of how an evolution of cooperation occurs based on primary values and interests, cooperative modes, the development of accepted codes of conduct, and progressive institutionalisation. It is argued that this material, institutional, and ideational analysis provides insights which are not possible in a more parsimonious or dichotomous approach. The thesis contends that the evolution of cooperation between the EC and East Asia has taken on a strongly material form and that the preferred cooperative mode has been 'active bilateralism', strongly stimulated by the predominantly important issue of trade but with some characteristics of a maturing dialogue and bilateral institutionalisation. The ASEM multilateral forum, suffering increasing indifference, can be seen as 'passive multilateralism' and strongly based on values and ideas, albeit possibly conflicting and incompatible ones. On the basis of the evidence assembled, the empirical cases provide further insight into the initial research questions and suggest that bilateral interregionalism in the EC-East Asia relationship is more grounded in material interests while multilateral interregionalism as seen in ASEM is based more strongly on ideas and values. The research also confirms the coexistence and confluence between bilateralism and multilateralism, the binding role of institutions, the importance of policy areas, and acknowledges the possible effect that a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors may have on the evolution of interregional cooperation.