EU-Latin American Science Diplomacy

8 / 2017
Joren Selleslaghs

The European Union (EU) has adopted a very generous region-to-region approach towards Latin America in recent decades. However, although the EU adopted the same interregional strategy across different policy areas, the quality of interregional interaction (and success) vary significantly. A telling example is the EU’s interregional approach to sign a far-reaching region-to-region association agreement with Latin America: instead of having one overarching EU-LAC agreement, the EU had to negotiate agreements with sub-regions in Latin America, and eventually only successfully concluded an Association Agreement with the Central American region (SICA) as negotiations with MERCOSUR have only recently been re-launched after a deadlock of six years and negotiations with the Andean region failed permanently, leading the EU to conclude bilateral association agreements with several Andean states instead. Another interesting case of EU-driven interregionalism is the case of EU-Latin America science diplomacy. In this policy area, it seems that the EU’s interregional approach has been particularly successful, as both regions continuously call for the creation and strengthening of a “Common Area for Higher Education, Research and Technology” and various high-level working groups and action plans have been established to achieve this end. Yet, in contrast to the considerable scholarly attention for understanding the success/failure of EU-driven economic interregionalism, a critical assessment of EU-Latin America interregional cooperation in the field of science, higher education and innovation has not been produced to date. This paper aims to fill this notable academic (and policy-making) gap by providing a thorough overview of (1) the EU’s drivers behind this particular foreign policy action and the chosen interregional approach; (2) the applied policy instruments and actions of this specific case of EU-Latin American interregional relations; and (3) achieved impact of this specific case of EU-Latin American interregional relations.